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THE ORNITHOLOGICAL 
SOCIETY OF THE 
MIDDLE EAST 




SANDGROUSE 
No 6 



PUBLISHED 1984 



PRICE £7.00 



The ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE MIDDLE EAST was formed in April 1978 
and is a successor to the Ornithological Society of Turkey. 



1 . To collect, collate and publish ornithological data on the birds of the Middle East. 

2. To encourage an interest in and conservation of the birds of the Middle East. 

3. To develop a mutually beneficial working relationship with all environmental and 
conservation bodies and natural history societies in and concerned with the Middle East. 

Membership is open to all and spans over 40 countries. 

Publications: Sandgrouse, an annual journal containing scientific papers on all aspects of 
ornithology of the Middle East. A bulletin is issued biannually to all members. 



Aims: 



Officers of the Society (as at June 1984) 



Vice-Presidents: S. Cramp 



P. A. D. Hollom 



Sir Hugh Elliott 
R. D. Etchecopar 
Dr. L. Hoffmann 



Dr. H. Kumerloeve 



Prof. H. Mendelssohn 



Dr. G. Tohme 



Council: 



J. S. M. Albrecht 
(Sales Officer) 

P. Clement 



D. Parr 



Dr. N. J. Collar 



(Sandgrouse Editor) 
R. F. Porter (Chairman) 
Dr. M. R. W. Rands 



Dr. L. Cornwallis 



N. J. Redman (Treasurer) 
Mrs. F. E. Warr (Secretary) 



S. Enright 

C. A. Harbard 
(Bulletin Editor) 




For further details and current subscription rates 
write to: — 

The Secretary, O.S.M.E., 
c/o The Lodge, Sandy, 
Beds., SG19 2DL, England. 



Cover illustrations by Ian Willis 



SANDGROUSE 
NUMBER 6 

ISSN 0260-4736 



Editor: 
Donald Parr 

Editorial Committee: 
Lindon Cornwallis, David Fisher, Chris Harbard 
and Michael Jennings 



Published by 

THE ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE MIDDLE EAST 

December 1984 

Price £7.00 

Further copies from: 
The Secretary, O.S.M.E., c/o The Lodge, Sandy, Beds., SG19 2DL, England. 



CONTENTS 



Page 



Editorial iii 

Birds seen on an Expedition to Djibouti by G. and H. Welch 1 

Selected Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan in the Springs 

of 1963 and 1966 by D. I. M. Wallace 24 

The Avifauna of the Al Jawf, Northwest Saudi Arabia by A. A. Green 48 

The Blue and White Flycatcher: first records from Arabia by M. G. 

Gallagher, C. M. Saunders, S. A. Webb and P. R. Colston 59 

A Chroniological Review of Birds first described from Turkey with 

their Taxonomic Status in 1984 by H. Kumerloeve 62 

Some Notes on the Indentification, Song and Habitat of the Green 
Warbler in the Western Black Sea Coastlands of Turkey by J. S. M. 
Albrecht 69 

Booted Eagles in Intermediate Plumage seen at Eilat, Israel by 

V. Holmgren 76 

LIST OF PLATES (see centre pages) 
Plates 1 to 10 Habitats and places in Djibouti described in the text 
Plates 11 and 12 Booted Eagles in intermediate plumage 
Plates 13 to 18 Habitats and places at Al Jawf, Saudi Arabia 



EDITORIAL 



The contents of Sandgrouse 6 is strong in appeal to those for whom little 
documented places hold a fascination. Geoff and Hilary Welch present a lucid 
and balanced account of their expedition to that little known country of 
Djibouti and I feel sure it will inspire and encourage those of us who have 
dreamed of watching raptor migration over the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. 
Like the Welches, Arthur Green is able to throw light on a virtually 
unrecorded area, in this instance, of Saudi Arabia and his report draws urgent 
attention, as does the Djibouti paper, to pressing conservation problems that 
cry out for action which we all seem so powerless to give. 

Once more we are indebted to Ian Wallace for the (?) final instalment of 
the Azraq papers, his painstaking and stimulating account of the observations 
of the notable team of ornithologists of which he was a member, now safely 
enshrined as a significant part of recent Sandgrouse issues. 

Michael Gallagher and his co-authors describe the surprising occurrence of 
the Blue and White Flycatcher Muscicapa cyanomelana in Arabia and Simon 
Albrecht postulates an astonishing degree of expansion of the Green Warbler 
Phylloscopus nitidus and throws some much needed new light on the songs 
and identification problems of that difficult species. We are grateful to Valde 
Holmgren for providing details of a seemingly rare phase of the Booted Eagle 
Hieraaetus pennatus and finally Hans Kumerloeve, one of our distinguished 
Vice-Presidents, presents a paper of a somewhat different nature to usual. 
Taxonomy and nomenclature are surely an essential aspect of our interest and 
we can echo the author's hope that the paper will stimulate further research on 
the avifauna of Turkey and other countries within our area. 

For the scientific names of birds we follow, where appropriate, the List of 
Recent Holarctic Bird Species by K. H. Voous, B.O.U., London, 1977, for 
African species A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World by R. Howard 
and A. Moore, London, 1980 and for mammals A Provisional Key-List of 
recent Holartic Mammalalia by D. T. Lees-Smith and C. Simms, The 
Yorkshire Museum, York, 1979. 

As usual I have received advice and support from the members of the 
Editorial Committee and also from Richard Porter, Simon Albrecht and 
Derek Lees-Smith. Mike Everett again helped with his cartographical skills 
and my wife, Joyce with advice and proof-reading. To all these and to all our 
authors I record my thanks and appreciation. 

Donald Parr 



iii 



BIRDS SEEN ON AN EXPEDITION TO DJIBOUTI 



by 

Geoff and Hilary Welch 

INTRODUCTION 

Djibouti, formerly French Somaliland, is one of the smallest African countries, covering an 
area of approximately 23,000 sq.km., and is situated at the southern end of the Red Sea, at the 
'crossroads' of eastern Africa and the Middle East. It is enclosed by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia 
to the west and south-west, and Somalia to the south-east. The country is roughly C-shaped, the 
centre of the C being the Gulf of Tadjourah which connects with the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea 
and Indian Ocean to the east. Apart from the Goda massif on the northern side of the Gulf of 
Tadjourah, the area consists mainly of desert and steppe habitats, with volcanic areas in the north 
and west - see Figure 1. The Goda mountains support the only area of forest, the Foret du Day, 
which unfortunately is disappearing at an alarming rate due to a combination of climatic and 
human-induced factors (Welch & Welch, 1984). 




Figure 1 : Map of Djibouti showing principal towns and sites visited. 



1 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Our initial interest in the country was the result of its geographical situation, and an 
examination of its topography suggested it should be an important area for migrants, especially 
raptors, moving to and from their wintering grounds in south and east Africa, there being an ideal 
'land bridge' across the Red Sea in the region of the Bab-el-Mandeb straits. Here the Red Sea is at 
its narrowest, c.22 km.; there are mountain chains on both the Djibouti and Yemen coasts and an 
additional small mountain on the island of Perim, c.2 km. off the Yemen coast. The narrowness of 
the straits at Ras Siyan should also allow good seawatching of birds moving between the Red Sea 
and Indian Ocean. 

Before making any firm plans to visit the country, we contacted the International Council for 
Bird Preservation (ICBP) to see if we could provide any information for them on the area. We 
learnt that Djibouti has an endemic gamebird, the Djibouti Francolin, Francolinus ochropectus, 
only discovered in 1952, and that little was known of its status and almost nothing about its habits 
in the wild. ICBP were keen for us to search for this bird and, if it still survived, to report on its 
present status. 

The francolin survey thus became our main objective, any remaining time being spent 
monitoring migration. During our three week stay (13 March to 3 April 1984), eleven days were 
occupied with work on the francolin in the Foret du Day, the remainder spent in general 
birdwatching, of which a visit to the north coast was only possible on one day, 27 March. 

SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS ORNITHOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE 

Djibouti's wildlife is very poorly documented. There are a few records from the mid to late 
19th century, Heuglin (1859), Oustalet (1894) but the only useful published works this century are 
Thesiger and Meynell (1935), Simoneau (c.1974), Navez (1981) and Ash (in prep). Of these only 
Simoneau purports to cover the whole country but this work is wildly inaccurate, almost 
impossible to obtain and lists only a hundred bird species. Therefore for background information 
one is forced to refer to those works covering the surrounding areas - Eritrea (Smith 1944, 1951, 
1953, 1955, 1957 and 1960), Ethiopia (Urban & Brown 1971), NW Somalia, (formerly British 
Somaliland) (Archer & Godman 1937-1961) and Arabia (Meinertzhagen 1954). None of the 
foregoing works covers the birdlife of the Foret du Day and ours would appear to be the first 
documented ornithological visit to the area. 

SITES VISITED 

Arta - a village situated on a hill (757 metres) on the southern side of the Gulf of Tadjourah, 
c.40 km west of Djibouti city. The slopes of the hill are covered with low scrub, largely acacia, and 
the hill forms a convenient staging post between the Somali foothills to the south and those of the 
Goda massif on the northern side of the Gulf. The scrub holds Rosy-patched Shrike, Pied 
Wheatear and Pygmy Sunbird, whilst the gardens of the village have Shining Sunbird and 
Namaqua Dove. The main attraction of the site is for raptor migration and there are two 
convenient car parks on the main road, below the radio station, for observing passage. 

About 10 km to the west along the main road is a small scrubby wadi - c.half to three quarters 
km. north of the road - and this was very productive for small birds, with Yellow-breasted Barbet, 
Blackstart, Rufous Bush Robin, Crombec and Red-faced Warbler, and Nubian Nightjars were 
heard calling nearby. 

Ambouli - this is Dijoubti city's main wadi and lies on its western outskirts. It is easily reached by 
driving west along the Arta road out of Djibouti until it crosses the wadi. This is the largest area of 
permanent greenery in the area, formed mainly of market gardens, and is very difficult to work, 
there being numerous paths between the gardens. However, the main inconvenience is the 
attendant children whose noise tends to scare off the birds. The area is a haven for small birds and 
intensive watching could bring interesting results. Resident species appear to be Red-billed 



2 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Firefinch, Ruppeli's Weaver, Pygmy Sunbird and Graceful Warbler, whilst migrants recorded 
included Isabelline Shrike, White-throated Robin, Blackcap, Redstart, Tawny Pipit and Tree 
Pipit. 

Dorale - the road to Dorale branches off from the main Djibouti - Arta road a short way west of 
Ambouli. The road is bordered for most of its length by acacia scrub interspersed with open areas. 
In a few places there is easy access to the mudflats and mangroves bordering the Gulf of 
Tadjourah. The road terminates in a small beach which held a few waders when there were no 
people around. 

The scrub held all of the commoner arid area species plus numerous Great Grey Shrike, 
Barred Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Whitethroat and many Arabian Golden Sparrows. A 
powerline running parallel with the road was used by several Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. The 
mudflats and mangroves were very productive with flocks of Spoonbill and Greater Flamingo, a 
few Green-backed Herons and a good selection of waders including Curlew, Whimbrel, 
Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper. Gull-billed Terns and 
Little Terns patrolled the creeks and a lone Caspian Tern was seen fishing offshore. 

Djibouti City - there are several places around the city worth visiting. The mudflats and scrub 
between the airport and prison are very good for both small birds and waders, highlights being 
Crab Plover, Sacred Ibis, Lesser Crested Tern, Terek Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Hoopoe Lark, 
Black-crowned Finch Lark, Namaqua Dove and up to 100 Arabian Golden Sparrows, mainly near 
the prison. 

A somewhat less salubrious spot is the mangrove area opposite Prisunic (the main 
supermarket) which unfortunately acts as the public convenience, so walking round with 
binoculars tends to attract more attention than usual. The open mud attracts good numbers of 
waders including Terek and Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint and Dunlin, whilst the mangroves 
hold Graceful Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, assorted Yellow Wagtail races and innumerable 
Indian House Crows. 

The harbour area, L'Escale, is good for Sooty and White-eyed Gulls and is the only area 
where Black-headed Gull was recorded. Lesser Crested, Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns were also 
seen. A Goliath Heron is regular near the Presidence de la Republique, whilst at low tide Western 
Reef Heron, Sacred Ibis and Greater Flamingo plus a good variety of waders can be seen. 

Obock - an excellent spot, most easily reached by the regular ferry from Djibouti or, for the more 
intrepid, by an appalling road from Tadjourah, which did reward us with a pair of Lichtenstein's 
Sandgrouse. Around the town itself are a few gardens, one of which held two Grey-headed 
Sparrows and a lone Speckled Pigeon. All along the waterfront can be seen Terek Sandpipers plus 
Ringed, Kentish, Grey, Lesser Sand and Greater Sand Plovers. 

Just to the east of the new jetty is a small muddy pool fringed by young mangroves. Onto this 
waders tend to fly as the tide rises, and it produced the only Broad-billed Sandpiper of the trip. 
Green-backed Herons occur in the mangroves. Further east again is the old jetty which being little 
used is frequented by good numbers of waders including Crab Plover. 

Along another rough track, still further to the east, is Ras Bir Lighthouse which is good for 
seawatching, though lack of shade is a problem. Here we saw 85 Crab Plover, Caspian Tern and 
two Ospreys plus two Tawny Pipits, Rosy-patched Shrike and Spotted Sandgrouse in the 
surrounding scrub. 

Godoria & Ras Siyan - these were the most northerly points visited but little time was available at 
either. Godoria, c.35 km. north north-east of Obock, is difficult to reach except by a track which 
approaches it from the south, there being large expanses of soft sand/mud in which vehicles can 
easily become bogged down. The mangroves can also be approached on foot from the north but 



3 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



we did not visit them. Here also a low string of hills runs parallel with the coast, c.30 km. east of 
the main mountain chain, and this appears to be followed by migrating raptors moving north 
towards Ras Siyan. The highest number of Booted Eagles of the trip were recorded here on our 
brief visit, together with a few Pallid/Montagu's Harriers and Steppe Eagle; Ras Siyan itself 
added a Sooty Falcon and a flock of 93 Egyptian Vultures. 

The Bab-el-Mandeb straits at Ras Siyan are 'bridged' by the island of Perim, c.2 km. off the 
Yemen coast. The promontory lies 12 km. north of Khor Angur and the flat sandy vista is 
dominated by the hill of Ras Siyan which rises to 140 metres and acts as a focus for migrating 
raptors. Immediately to the north is a large inlet with extensive sandy beaches which held good 
numbers of Sooty Gulls and Swift Terns. Seawatching here should be very productive but there is 
no shade at all and the nearest water is at Khor Angur, so any visit should be carefully planned and 
well-equipped. It is advisable to report to the military post at Khor Angur before proceeding to 
Ras Siyan to ensure that travelling is safe - we were prohibited from going any further north due to 
Army manoeuvres/border disputes. 

Tadjourah - the town itself is not particularly productive though the gardens hold large numbers 
of Laughing Dove and Riippell's Weaver, whilst Egyptian Vultures and Fan-tailed Ravens circle 
overhead. By contrast, the area along the Tadjourah - Randa road near the mineral water bottling 
plant is excellent though difficult to work, consisting mainly of acacia steppe and numerous dry 
wadis. The area held high numbers of Pygmy Sunbird plus Yellow-breasted Barbet, Great Grey 
Shrike, Black Bush Robin and Desert Larks. 

Near the bottling plant itself is a trough and standpipe spurting out freshwater and this, 
together with a nearby cultivated area, is a haven for small birds. The most numerous species 
observed were Black-crowned Finch Larks and African Rock Buntings. 

Foret du Day - this large area is only accessible by a rough road, a four-wheel drive vehicle being 
necessary. The main habitats are primary juniper forest, secondary forest (mainly box and acacia), 
semi-desert plains and the wadis. The major primary forest areas now only occur at high elevations 
such as around Garrab, Adonta and Hambocka and their main interest ornithologically is the 
endemic Djibouti Francolin. Additionally the forest supports good numbers of Drongo, 
Hemprich's Hornbill, Tropical Boubou, White-breasted White-eye, Brown Woodland Warbler, 
Yellow-bellied Green Pigeon and Paradise Flycatcher. 

The secondary forest has its own characteristic wildlife but this habitat was not examined in 
any detail except in the region of the wadi at Bankouale, where the density and range of species 
present was no doubt influenced by the presence of surface water. Species of note included Grey- 
headed Puff-back Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Seedeater, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Yellow- 
billed Hornbill. 

The semi-desert plains were not examined thoroughly, other than that below Colonie, and this 
had Desert Lark, Pied, Black-eared and Red-breasted Wheatear, and numerous Richard's Pipits. 

The major wadis of Goh, Hambocka and Bankouale are generally inaccessible except on foot, 
and even then only with extreme care, and having permanent water are much lusher in vegetation. 
In times of drought they are a refuge for all wildlife used by both primary and secondary forest 
species. The steep wadi sides provide nesting sites for African Hawk Eagle, Verreaux's Eagle, 
Kestrel and African Rock Martin. 

VISIBLE MIGRATION 

Due to a lack of time and, more importantly, independent transport, no sustained raptor 
watching was possible and so our results are little more than an indication of the potential 
movement of species through the country. 

Raptor migration was noted at three sites - Arta, c.40 km., west of Djibouti city, Colonie in 



4 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



the Foret du Day, and in the region of Godoria and Ras Siyan. Species and numbers involved are 
shown in TABLE I. Additionally, parties of Bee-eaters, Merops apiaster, were recorded at Ras 
Siyan, Arta and Dorale, with three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Merops superciliosus, at Arta on 2 
April. 



TABLE I. VISIBLE MIGRATION THROUGH DJIBOUTI - MARCH/APRIL 1984 
Species Total number of birds seen 





Arta 


Colonie 


Godoria/ 
Ras Siyan 


Others 


Black Kite 


1 


6 






Egyptian Vulture 


Zy 


lz 




Jo 


Short-toed Eagle 


1 


i 
l 




z 


Marsh Harrier 


1 






2 


Pallid Harrier 


-> 
Z 


i 


1 


-7 

/ 


Montagu's Harrier 


2 








Ringtail Harrier 






3 


1 


Sparrowhawk 


6 








A ccipiter sp. 


5 








Steppe Buzzard 




1 






Long-legged Buzzard 




1 






Steppe Eagle 




1 


1 


4 


Imperial Eagle 




1 






Booted Eagle 


4 


8 


30 + 


3 


Eagle sp. 




3 


2 




Lesser Kestrel 


2 








Kestrel 


1 






1 


Bee-eater 


60 




18 


32 + 



N.B. The observations at Arta were made on 14 March, 1 and 2 April (a total of 5% hours 
watching), Colonie from 24 to 30 March (7'/2 hours) and Godoria and Ras Siyan on 27 March 
(3% hours). Additional casual records are also included. 

ANNOTATED CHECKLIST 

During the three weeks, 160 species were noted. Of these 60 would appear to be new to the 
country but this would seem to be more a reflection of the paucity of published records rather than 
our bird-watching prowess! In the list, each species account is in two sections - our observations, 
and a comment on its status based on our records and published information from Djibouti and 
surrounding areas reviewed above. 

Order and nomenclature follows that of Voous (1977) for Holarctic species and Howard & 
Moore (1980) for African species not listed by Voous. 

Throughout the list, reference should be made to the map for the location of sites mentioned 
in the text. Those sites immediately around Djibouti city - Ambouli, harbour, prison and airport - 
are not shown due to the small scale. Similarly, those sites within or near the Foret du Day - 
Colonie, Garrab, Goh and Wadi Ewali - are not marked for the same reason. 



Sula leucogaster Brown Booby 

One flying south at Ras Siyan on 27 March. 
Resident throughout Red Sea, breeding on off-shore islands. 



5 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Pelecanus rufescens Pink-backed Pelican 

Up to three around Djibouti city throughout, also two at Tadjourah on 26 March. 
Resident and widespread on African coast of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 

Butorides striatus Green-backed Heron 

One adult and immature at Obock on 26 March, with two immatures there on 28 March, and 
two immatures in mangroves near Dorale on 2 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Common resident in coastal mangroves throughout the Red Sea. 

Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret 

Four flying over Ambouli on 2 April and two, probably of the same party, on nearby rubbish 
dump on 3 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident and intra-African migrant, recorded breeding in Eritrea. 

Egretta gularis Western Reef Heron 

Common in all coastal areas, except around Tadjourah. 
Very common resident throughout Red Sea coastal areas. 

Egretta garzetta Little Egret 

One flying over mudflats near airport on 14 March. 
Autumn migrant with a few in winter and summer. 

Ardea cinerea Grey Heron 

One or two around Djibouti city throughout, one at Obock on 26 and 29 March and two near 
Dorale on 2 April. All immatures. 

Winter visitor, locally common. 

A rdea goliath Goliath Heron 

One or two around Djibouti city throughout. Apparently one has frequented Djibouti 
harbour for several years. 

Common resident along Red Sea coast. 

Ciconia abdimii Abdim's Stork 

Up to 20 between Djibouti and Dorale throughout, also two over Tadjourah on 31 March. 
Intra-tropical, trans-equatorial migrant, breeding in Somalia and Ethiopia. 

Threskiornis aethiopicus Sacred Ibis 

Very common around Djibouti and Dorale with a maximum of 100+ on 14 March. 
Common, widespread resident. 

Platalea leucorodia Spoonbill 

Up to three around Djibouti harbour on 14 and 15 March, one at Obock on 28 March and 
43 near Dorale on 2 April. 

Common resident breeding in coastal areas. Numbers swelled by Palearctic migrants in 
winter. 

Phoenicopterus ruber Greater Flamingo 

Common around Djibouti and Dorale, with a maximum of 95 on 15 March. 
Winter visitor and passage migrant. 



6 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Milvus migrans Black Kite 

Resident in small numbers around Djibouti city and Tadjourah, also small numbers passing 
through - see TABLE I. 

M.m.arabicus is a common resident and M.m. migrans is a passage migrant in large numbers, 
with a record of many thousands over Perim on 5 March 1907 (Madarasz 1915). 

Neophron percnopterus Egyptian Vulture 

Extremely abundant wherever there is human habitation, except around Djibouti city. 
Passage birds noted on several occasions - see TABLE I. 

Common resident in almost all arid regions. 

Gyps rueppellii Riippell's Vulture 

Two near Colonie on 24 March, with one there on 25 March. All were very pale individuals, 
probably G.r.erlangeri. 

No previous Djibouti records. 
Common to locally abundant resident. 

Circaetus gallicus Short-toed Eagle 

One over Goh and presumed same over Colonie on 16 March, two near Arta on 1 April, with 
one there on 2 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

C.g. gallicus is a winter visitor to northern tropical Africa, occasionally moving south to the 
equator. 



Circus aeruginosus Marsh Harrier 

A pair flying north over Djibouti city on 1 April and a male north-east over Arta on 2 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

The only records from the surrounding area are from Eritea where Smith (1957) describes it as 
a regular passage migrant. 

Circus macrourus Pallid Harrier 

Passage birds were recorded at Djibouti city, Tadjourah, Obock, Colonie, Dorale and Ras 
Siyan - see TABLE I. 

Winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Circus pygargus Montagu's Harrier 

A pair flew north over Arta on 14 March. Additional possible ringtails were recorded at 
Tadjourah and Godoria. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Accipiter nisus Sparrowhawk 

One flying north over Arta on 1 April, with at least six there on 2 April. All females. Five 
Accipiter sp at Arta on 2 April were probably this species. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Scarce winter migrant to tropical Africa. 

Accipiter badius Shikra 

Small numbers seen regularly in the Foret du Day, also two over Tadjourah on 31 March, one 
at Arta on 1 April, with two there on 2 April. 

Frequent to common resident in savannas and wooded grasslands south of the Sahara. 



7 



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Birds of Djibouti 



Buteo buteo vulpinus Steppe Buzzard 

One flying east over Colonie on 25 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Common to abundant Palearctic passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Buteo rufinus Long-legged Buzzard 

One flying east over Colonie on 24 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Scarce winter visitor to north and north-east Africa and a vagrant south to Zambia. 

Aquila rapax Tawny Eagle 

An adult soaring over Garrab on 25 March. 
Common resident over much of Africa. 

Aquila nipalensis Steppe Eagle 

Six on a rubbish dump between Djibouti and Arta on 14 March were probably wintering 
birds. Otherwise small numbers of passge birds recorded at Arta, Colonie, Randa and Godoria - 
see TABLE I. 

Common winter visitor to Africa north of the equator. 

Aquila heliaca Imperial Eagle 

An immature, probably 2nd year, in the Colonie area on 30 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Scarce Palearctic winter migrant to Egypt, Sudan and Eritea, straggling south to Kenya 
(Brown et a/1982). 

Aquila verreauxii Verreaux's Eagle 

A pair, presumed residents, being mobbed by two African Hawk Eagles over Goh on 23 
March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Scarce resident in mountainous regions throughout Africa. 

Hieraaetus pennatus Booted Eagle 

Recorded on passage from 25 March, usually in small numbers, from Colonie, Godoria, Ras 
Siyan and Arta - see TABLE I. A total of 50 birds recorded, only one of which was dark phase. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Frequent to uncommon migrant. 

Hieraaetus spilogaster African Hawk Eagle* 

One, probably two, pairs resident around the Garrab area and seen on most days. Also singles 
at Randa on 19 March and Arta on 1 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Frequent to uncommon resident in well wooded areas south of the Sahara. 

Pandion haliaetus Osprey 

Up to three apparently resident around Djibouti city, one Obock 26 and 28 March, two at Ras 
Siyan on 27 March, one flying south at Ras Bir on 28 March and two around Tadjourah on 29 and 
31 March. 

Abundant resident breeder along Red Sea coast. 

*Howard and Moore (1980) treat this as a sub-species of the Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus spilogaster but most authorities 
accept it as a full species. Ed. 



8 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel 

Two males flying north over Arta on 14 March and one male east over Colonie on 16 March. 
• No previous Djibouti records. 

Migrant to semi-arid areas, wintering in large numbers in southern Africa. 

Falco tinnunculus Kestrel 

Recorded in small numbers on most days at Randa, Garrab, Colonie, Bankouale and 
Tadjourah, and all birds appeared to be resident. Two apparent migrants were recorded, one 
north over Arta on 14 March and a male north-east over the Gulf of Tadjourah on 15 March. 

Resident and Palearctic migrant. 

Falco concolor Sooty Falcon 

One flying south at Ras Siyan on 27 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Scarce resident along Red Sea coast. 

Falco biarmicus Lanner 

One at Obock on 28 March, two around Colonie on 30 March and one over Ambouli on 3 
April. 

Resident, generally frequent to common. 

Francolinus ochropectus Djibouti Francolin 

Recorded from six sites within the Foret du Day, with evidence of at least 50 birds. Largest 
concentrations were c.20 at Bankouale on 19 March and nine on Garrab on 22 March. Present 
world population estimated at c.5,000 (J. Blot pers.com.). 

The only published works on this species are two taxonomic papers by Dorst and Jouanin 
(1952 and 1954) produced just after the species' discovery. Therefore, set out below is a field 
description which may be of help to future visitors to the area. 

A medium-sized stocky gamebird, estimated to be about the size of a large partridge, looking 
very dark in the field. Crown chestnut with orangy tinge, slightly paler than the remainder of head 
and neck which showed a more reddish cast. Neck and upper breast marked with numerous white 
flecks, these getting larger on the belly making the bird appear whiter underneath. 
Prominent deep reddish-black tear-shaped mask extending from base of bill, through eye and 
almost back to nape. 

Small white spot immediately behind eye. Throat pale yellowish and unstreaked. Wings and 
mantle deep brown, the latter striated with dark reddish-brown flecking. Flight feathers uniform 
greyish-brown, paler than rest of wing. Tail plain greyish-brown. Legs stout and yellowish-orange, 
the spurs were not readily noticeable in the field. Bill quite heavy, yellowish and distinctly 
decurved. Eye large and dark. 

Call of the male is a loud "Erk - ka,ka,ka,k k k kkk", with the "Erk" being the dominant 
sound, and the "ka,ka,ka" etc. getting faster and quieter as it progressed, ending in what can best 
be described as a chuckle. Also a low conversational soft clucking from birds in a feeding group. 

Generally a bird of densely vegetated areas, more often heard than seen. Feeds in typical 
gamebird style, scratching for seeds on the ground and also for termites in areas disturbed by 
Warthogs. Roosts in dense vegetation up to a height of c.4 metres. When alarmed, seeks shelter in 
trees and sits very tight, relying on its plumage for camouflage. Most active from dawn to about 
0800 hours and often encountered in small (family) parties. 



9 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Ardeotis arabs Arabian Bustard 

One on the Petit Bara on 1 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident from the Red Sea Province of Sudan to Ethiopia and Somalia. 

Haematopus ostralegus Oystercatcher 

Up to nine on beaches around Djibouti city on 14 March and 3 April, and two-three at Obock 
from 26 to 29 March. 

Common winter visitor and passage migrant, a few possibly summering. 

Dromas ardeola Crab Plover 

One immature at Obock and 85 flying north at Ras Bir on 28 March, and at least 38 adults on 
mudflats near airport on 3 April. 

Abundant around the Gulf of Aden in summer, possibly moving south in the autumn. 

Charadrius dubius Little Ringed Plover 

One on mudflats near airport on 14 March. 

No previous Djibouti records, though reported as occurring in large numbers around Zeyla 
and Djibouti by Archer and Godman (1937-1961). 

Charadrius hiaticula Ringed Plover 

Up to eight around Djibouti beaches throughout, a similar number at Obock from 26 to 29 
March and one near Dorale on 1 and 2 April. All appeared to be C.h.tundrae. 

Common winter visitor and passage migrant, a few summering. 

Charadrius alexandrinus Kentish Plover 

Common in all suitable coastal areas, with at least 20 around Djibouti city on 14 March. 
Very common resident in coastal areas. 

Charadrius mongolus Lesser Sand Plover 

Up to four at Obock from 26 to 29 March and two in Djibouti harbour on 31 March. Possibly 
overlooked. 

Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Charadrius leschenaultii Greater Sand Plover 

Up to five around Djibouti city throughout, one west of Obock on 26 March and 14 at Obock 
on 28 March. 

Common winter visitor, Ash (in prep.) recording large numbers (300) in December 1975, and 
probably resident and breeding. 

Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 

Small numbers, maximum 21, recorded from all suitable coastal areas. 
Common winter visitor and passage migrant, a few summering. 

Calidris alba Sanderling 

Small numbers recorded around Djibouti city, Obock and near Dorale. 
Common winter visitor with a few in summer. 

Calidris minuta Little Stint 

Three-four around Djibouti city throughout and up to six at Obock from 26 to 29 March. 
Common winter visitor and passage migrant. 



10 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Calidris ferruginea Curlew Sandpiper 

Fairly common in all suitable coastal areas, with at least 31 around Djibouti city on 1 April. 
Abundant winter visitor, with a few summering. Large numbers (2,000 + ) recorded in 
Djibouti by Ash (in prep.). 

Calidris alpina Dunlin 

At least 15 on mudflats near airport on 14 March and three on nearby area on 31 March. 
Possibly overlooked. 

Regular winter visitor in small numbers, a few summering. 

Limicola falcinellus Broad-billed Sandpiper 

A bird in winter plumage at Obock on 26 March. 

One previous Djibouti record, three on beach around Djibouti city on 25 December 1975 
(Ash in prep.). One other record from the area, two females at Massawa, Eritrea on 12 May 1953 
(Smith 1957). 

Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 

Up to six recorded around Djibouti city and at Obock. 
Fairly common winter visitor with a few in summer. 

Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel 

Up to four around Djibouti city throughout and three near Dorale on 2 April. 
Common winter visitor, a few summering. 

Numenius arquata Curlew 

Twelve on mudflats near airport on 14 March, with singles in the same area on 15 and 31 
March, one west of Obock on 26 March, two at Obock on 28 and 29 March, and four near Dorale 
on 2 April. 

Common winter visitor and passage migrant with a few in summer. 

Tringa totanus Redshank 

Numerous in all coastal areas, with at least 30 roosting in mangrove swamp on outskirts of 
Djibouti city on 31 March. 

Common winter visitor with a few in summer. 

Tringa nebularia Greenshank 

As Redshank but scarcer, with a maximum of 12 on mudflats near airport on 14 March. 
Present throughout the year but more numerous from October to March. 

Tringa ochropus Green Sandpiper 

Singles at Bankouale on 19 March and Dorale on 3 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Present in small numbers from late July to April, mainly inland. 

Tringa glareola Wood Sandpiper 

Four on mudflats near airport on 14 March. 
Fairly common winter visitor, mainly inland. 

Xenus cinereus Terek Sandpiper 

Very numerous in all suitable coastal areas and probably the commonest wader. At least 50 on 
mudflats near airport on 14 March. 
Common winter visitor. 



Sand grouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Actitis hypoleucos Common Sandpiper 

Small numbers, up to 10, noted in all suitable coastal areas. 
Common migrant and winter visitor, regularly summers. 

Arenaria interpres Turnstone 

Up to 20 noted in all suitable coastal areas with numbers decreasing during our stay. 
Winter visitor and passage migrant, most abundant in March and April. A few summer. 

Stercorarius pomarinus Pomarine Skua 

An adult flew north-east over Obock on 28 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Only two records from the area, in the Gulf of Aden on 12 January 1946 (Elliot 1952) and off 
Dahlak Island, Eritrea on 5 March 1952 (Smith 1953). 

Larus hemprichii Sooty Gull 

Common in all coastal areas, with a maximum of 126 at Obock on 29 March. 
Common resident. 

Larus leucophthalmus White-eyed Gull 

As Sooty Gull, though scarcer, with a maximum of 50 at Obock on 29 March. 
Abundant resident. 

Larus ridibundus Black-headed Gull 

Only recorded around Djibouti harbour area, with a maximum of 16 on 31 March. All 
immatures. 

Only one previous Djibouti record, up to 15 in the same area on 25 and 26 December 1975 
(Ash in prep.). Described as abundant winter visitor and passage migrant in Eritrea. 

Larus fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull 

Small numbers recorded around Djibouti city and Obock. 
Common winter visitor, with a few in summer. 

Larus argentatus Herring Gull 

As Lesser Black-backed Gull but generally less numerous. All immatures. 
Regular winter visitor in small numbers. 

Gelochelidon nilotica Gull-billed Tern 

Up to 10 recorded around Djibouti city and Dorale. One adult at Obock on 28 March. 
Common winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Sterna caspia Caspian Tern 

Single adults flying south at Ras Bir on 28 March and off Dorale on 2 April. 
Fairly common winter visitor, some summer and may breed. 

Sterna bergii Swift Tern 

Two adults in the Gulf of Tadjourah on 15 March, up to 21 around Obock from 26 to 29 
March, and 10 at Ras Siyan on 27 March. 

Common resident. 



12 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Sterna bengalensis 



Lesser Crested Tern 



One adult and immature in Djibouti harbour and two adults at Tadjourah on 15 March, one 
adult at Obock on 28 March, two adults in Gulf of Tadjourah on 31 March, and at least 21 on 
mudflats near airport on 3 April. 

Very common resident. 



The only positive record was seven at Dorale on 2 April. Flocks of either this species or 
Saunders' Little Tern, S.saundersi, were seen around Djibouti city on 14 March, c.45 in Gulf of 
Tadjourah on 15 March and 35 on mudflats near airport on 3 April. 

Saunders' Little Tern is a resident in the southern half of the Red Sea but the exact status of 
Little Tern is unclear due to identification problems. 

Chlidonias hybridus Whiskered Tern 

Two adults in winter plumage fishing in Djibouti harbour on 3 April. 
No previous records for Djibouti or surrounding areas. 

Pterocles lichtensteinii Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse 

A pair beside the Tadjourah to Obock road, c.20 km west of Obock, on 29 March. An 
unidentified sandgrouse in the same spot on 26 March was probably this species. 

Local resident throughout, below 900 metres. 

Pterocles senegallus Spotted Sandgrouse 

Fourteen at Godoria on 27 March and three at Ras Bir on 28 March. Flocks of unidentified 
sandgrouse were c.30 at Obock on 27 March, with at least five there on 28 March, and c.30 near 
Gordoria on 27 March and were probably this species. 

Widespread but uncommon throughout. 

Columba guinea Speckled Pigeon 

Common around Colonie, Foret du Day, with a maximum of 35 on 17 March. Also recorded 
in small numbers at Obock, Tadjourah, Djibouti, Arta, Oueha and Ambouli. 

Plentiful in most areas. 

Columba arquatrix Olive Pigeon 

Only recorded in the Foret du Day with a maximum of four at Adonta on 17 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

A bird of mature forest, usually at high elevations. 

Steptopelia roseogrisea African Collared Dove 

Abundant around Ambouli, maximum 75 on 2 and 3 April, with small numbers noted at 
Tadjourah and Obock. 

Plentiful in coastal areas of north west Somalia. 

Streptopelia senegalensis Palm Dove 

Common and widespread in all but the most arid regions. 
Common resident throughout. 

Oena capensis Namaqua Dove 

Recorded in small numbers around Djibouti, Dorale and Arta, with the exception of three 
males in mangroves near Khor Angur on 27 March. Pair found nest building in coastal scrub on 
14 March. 

Resident in dry areas and subject to local movements. 



Sterna albifrons 



Little Tern 



13 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Treron waalia Yellow-bellied Green Pigeon 

Only recorded in the Foret du Day, with a maximum of 30 on 21 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Common in riparian woodland, often associated with figs. 

Psittacula krameri Rose-ringed Parakeet 

Two displaying over Ambouli on 2 and 3 April. 
Presumed resident below 1,200 metres. 

Otus senegalensis African Scops Owl 

At least two calling on 16 March and at least four calling and one seen on 25 March. All 
records from the Garrab area of the Foret du Day. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Uncommon but widely distributed resident. 

Caprimulgus nubicus Nubian Nightjar 

At least two calling c. 10 km west of Arta on 1 and 2 April. 
Common in coastal areas. 

Apus pallidus Pallid Swift 

Three flying east over Colonie on 16 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Very common passage migrant. 

Apus affinis Little Swift 

Only recorded in the Djibouti city area, with at least 15 on 3 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident breeding species in all suitable areas. 

Cypsiurus parvus Palm Swift 

One, feeding with Little Swifts, over coastal scrub near airport on 14 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common resident throughout lowland areas. 

Merops superciliosus Blue-cheeked Bee-eater 

Only recorded on the south side of the Gulf of Tadjourah, with a maximum of 30 over 
Ambouli on 2 April. A pair was seen excavating a nest hole near Djibouti Prison on 3 April. 

Common passage migrant. 

Merops apiaster Bee-eater 

Small numbers, maximum 35, recorded on passage at Ras Siyan, Obock, Arta, Dorale and 
Djibouti city - see TABLE I. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Passage migrant. 

Upupa epops Hoopoe 

Small numbers almost daily in the Foret du Day, and one in Djibouti city on 14 March. 
U.e. senegalensis is a common resident, U.e.epops is a winter visitor. 



14 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Tockus hemprichii Hemp rich's Hornbill 

Regularly recorded throughout the Foret du Day, with a maximum of 17 on 18 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Presumed resident in woodland at medium elevations, wandering to lowland areas in winter. 

Tockus flavirostris Yellow-billed Hornbill 

Only recorded in the acacia scrub around Bankouale, with 15 on 19 March and nine on 20 
March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 
Presumed localised resident. 

Tricholaema melanocephalum Brown-throated Barbet 

Two at Bankouale on 19 March. 

Presumed resident throughout all arid areas. 

Trachyphonus margaritatus Yellow-breasted Barbet 

Small numbers recorded in scrubby coastal areas at Tadjourah, Obock, Dorale, near Arta 
and Ambouli. 

Common in low-lying country. 

Campethera nubica Nubian Woodpecker 

A male at Colonie on 17 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Presumed resident in all suitable areas. 

Dendropicos fuscescens Cardinal Woodpecker 

One to two recorded on four dates in the Foret du Day. 
Presumed scarce resident in all suitable areas. 

Eremopterix nigriceps Black-crowned Finch Lark 

Recorded in small numbers from lowland areas around Djibouti city, between Obock and Ras 
Siyan, between Tadjourah and Obock, at Ras Bir, on the Grand Bara and with a maximum of 50 
on western outskirts of Tadjourah. 

Abundant in suitable areas. 

Ammomanes deserti Desert Lark 

Birds showing the characteristics of A.d.assabensis, Danakil Sand Lark, were recorded in 
small numbers around Tadjourah, on the edge of the Foret du Day, at Ras Bir, between Obock 
and Tadjourah, on the Petit Bara and at Arta. 

Resident in all suitable areas. 

A laemon alaudipes Hoopoe Lark 

Recorded in small numbers, maximum 10 between Obock and Ras Siyan, from all parts of the 
coastal plain. 

Common resident on coastal plain. 

Jalerida cristata Crested Lark 

Only recorded on the southern side of the Gulf of Tadjourah, with a maximum of 12 around 
Djibouti city on 14 March. 

Very common resident on coastal plain. 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Ptyonoprogne fuligula African Rock Martin 

Small numbers recorded around cliffs in Foret du Day, Oueha and Arta, and with two around 
airport buildings on 3 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident throughout all suitable areas. 

Hirundo rustica Swallow 

Regularly recorded on passage from all lowland areas, with a maximum of 44 on 1 April. One 
'highland' record of a single at Randa on 19 March. 

Common passage migrant in large numbers, a few winter. 

An thus novaeseelandiae Richard's Pipit 

Common in the Foret du Day, with a maximum of 13 on 24 March, also two at Arta on 1 
April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 
Common resident at high elevations. 

Anthus campestris Tawny Pipit 

Two at Ras Bir on 28 March and two at Ambouli on 3 April. 
Common winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Anthus similis Long-billed Pipit 

One at Arta on 2 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Presumed resident at high elevations. 

Anthus trivialis Tree Pipit 

One at Ambouli on 3 April. 
Common passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Anthus cervinus Red-throated Pipit 

Two in Foret du Day on 16 March and one at Ambouli on 2 April. 
Common spring migrant, with smaller numbers in autumn and winter. 

Motacilla flava Yellow Wagtail 

Recorded in varying numbers, maximum 26 on 14 March, almost daily and from all areas 
visited. Males of four races were idenitified - (in decreasing order of abundance) M.f.feldegg, 
M.f. flava, M.fbeema and M.fthunbergi. 

Only one previous Djibouti record, a single on 25 December 1975 (Ash in prep.). 

Very common winter visitor, abundant in coastal areas. 

Motacilla cinerea Grey Wagtail 

One at Bankouale on 19 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Regular winter visitor in small numbers, mainly to mountainous areas. 

Motacilla alba White Wagtail 

Singles at Ambouli, Randa, Obock and Djibouti city, with two at Bankouale on 19 March. 
Common winter visitor, abundant on coast. 



16 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Pycnonotus barbatus Common Bulbul 

Fairly common in all well vegetated areas at low elevations, with a few records from the Foret 
du Day. 

Generally common in all suitable areas. 

Cercotrichas galactotes Rufous Bush Chat 

One or two recorded at Arta, Ambouli, between Obock and Tadjourah and at Dorale. 
Common resident. 

Cercotrichas podobe Black Bush Robin 

Singles on the western outskirts of Tadjourah and at Wadi Ewali on 20 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Common resident below 1 ,000 metres. 

Irania gutturalis White-throated Robin 

A male at Ambouli on 14 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Phoenicurus ochruros Black Redstart 

A male, showing the characteristics of the Kashmir race, P.O. phoenicuroides, in the Foret du 
Day on 16 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common winter visitor. 

Phoenicurus phoenicurus Redstart 

One to two regularly in the Foret du Day around Garrab, four c.10 km west of Arta and one 
at Ambouli. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common winter visitor to Eritrea (Smith 1951) but not recorded in north west Somalia 
(Archer & Godman 1937-1961). 

Cercomela melanura Blackstart 

Small numbers around Colonie, between Obock and Tadjourah and at Arta. 
Common resident in all suitable areas. 

Saxicola torquata Stonechat 

A female on the plain below Colonie from at least 17 to 22 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Rare winter visitor. 

Oenanthe isabellina Isabelline Wheatear 

One at Godoria on 27 March. 
Common winter visitor. 

Oenanthe bottae Red-breasted Wheatear 

Two on the plain below Colonie on 17 March, with one there on 22 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Vagrant to Eritea (Smith 1955 and 1957) and uncommon resident in southern Ethiopia 
(Urban & Brown 1971). 



17 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Oenanthe pleschanka Pied Wheatear 

One or two on plain below Colonie from 17 to 23 March, one east of Arta on 1 April, three at 
Arta on 2 April and one at Dorale on 3 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common to abundant winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Oenanthe hispanica Black -eared Wheatear 

Two males and one female on the plain below Colonie on 25 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Common winter visitor. 

Oenanthe monacha Hooded Wheatear 

A male on a rubbish dump between Djibouti and Arta on 1 April. 

No previous Djibouti records and not recorded from any surrounding areas except for Arabia 
where it has a discontinuous distribution (Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Monticola saxatilis Rock Thrush 

A female in the gorge below Garrab on 23 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Monticola solitarius Blue Rock Thrush 

One or two males around Colonie from 20 to 23 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Turdus philomelos Song Thursh 

Up to five around Garrab throughout and two at Randa on 15 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Winter visitor in varying numbers. 

Prinia gracilis Graceful Warbler 

Only recorded at low elevations around Djibouti city, Obock, Khor Angur, Dorale and 
Ambouli, with a maximum of 15 on 14 March. 

Very common coastal resident. 

Spiloptila rufifrons Red-faced Warbler 

Only positively identified in wadi c.10 km west of Arta with four on 2 April but three birds 
just west of Obock on 29 March and two near Arta on 1 April were probably this species. 

Locally common. 

A crocephalus sp Unstreaked A crocephalus 

One or two in mangroves just south of Khor Angur on 27 March and at least six in mangroves 
on western edge of Djibouti city on 1 April, the latter recalling Reed Warbler, A.scirpaceus. 

A.scirpaceus fuscus is a common passage migrant and winter visitor to Eritrea and Arabia 
and these records probably relate to this species. 

Hippolais pallida Olivaceous Warbler 

One or two in gardens around Djibouti city throughout, one at Tadjourah on 20 March and 
one around Dorale from 1 to 3 April. 
Common winter visitor. 



18 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Sylvia rueppelli Riippell's Warbler 

A female at Arta on 14 March. 

Previously recorded in Simoneau (1974) but no details are given, otherwise only one record 
from the surrounding area, one in Ethiopia on 17 February 1964 (Urban & Brown 1971). 

Sylvia nisoria Barred Warbler 

At least three adults around Dorale on 2 and 3 April and one at airport on 3 April. 
Passage migrant and possible winter visitor. 

Sylvia communis Whitethroat 
One at Dorale on 2 April. 
Common passage migrant and winter visitor. 

Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap 
A male at Ambouli on 14 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Phylloscopus umbrovirens Brown Woodland Warbler 

Common in the Foret du Day with up to 12 singing birds around Garrab on 23 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident in mountain woodland areas with some wandering to lower elevations in autumn. 

Phylloscopus trochilus Willow Warbler 

Extremely widespread and numerous being recorded almost daily. 
P.t.acredula is a common winter visitor and passage migrant. 



Camaroptera brevicaudata Grey-backed Camaroptera 

One at Bankouale on 19 March. 

Localised resident in most areas except for coastal plain. 

Sylvietta brachyura Crombec 

One at Colonie on 17 March, two at Bankouale on 19 March and one c.10 km west of Arta on 
2 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Scarce resident throughout. 

Batis orientalis Grey-headed Puff-back Flycatcher 

A pair at Bankouale on 19 March. 

Resident in all suitable areas and often encountered in pairs. 

Terpsiphone viridis African Paradise Flycatcher 

Only recorded in the Foret du Day with a maximum of six, two apparent pairs, on 23 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident in all suitable areas, usually montane forest. 

Anthreptes platurus Pygmy Sunbird 

Very common in all scrubby areas bordering the Gulf of Tadjourah, with a maximum of 22 
on 2 April. 

Common in arid areas below 1 ,500 metres. 



19 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Nectarinia habessinica Shining Sunbird 

Single males near Randa on 19 March and in the Foret du Day on 20 and 23 March, and a pair 
at Arta on 2 April. 

Common resident at low elevations. 

Zosterops abyssinica White-breasted White-eye 

Common in the Foret du Day with a maximum of 17 + on 23 March. Also two at Arta on 14 
March and two at Randa on 15 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Fairly common resident. 

Tchagra senegala Black-headed Bush Shrike 

One on Garrab on 22 March and one around Colonie on 22 and 24 March. 

Common resident above 300 metres in Eritrea and 1,200 metres in north west Somalia. 

Rhodophoenus cruentus Rosy-patched Shrike 

One at Ras Bir on 28 March, two west of Obock on 29 March, at least four around Dorale 
from 1 to 3 April and two at Arta on 1 April. 
Abundant resident below 300 metres. 

Laniarius aethiopicus Tropical Boubou 

Up to seven calling in the Foret du Day throughout. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Sparse resident above 2,500 metres in north west Somalia. 

Lanius isabellinus Isabelline Shrike 

A female at Ambouli on 14 March, with two males there on 2 and 3 April, a female at Dorale 
on 1 April and a pair between Djibouti and Arta on 1 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common migrant and winter visitor below 1 ,200 metres. 

Lanius excubitor Great Grey Shrike 

Common in all coastal scrub with a maximum of 31 between Obock and Tadjourah on 29 
March. 

Previously recorded by Thesiger and Meynell (1935) who collected both L.e. aucheri and 
L. e. buryi at Tadjourah. 

Common winter visitor. 

Lanius somalicus Somali Fiscal 

One between Djibouti and Arta on 14 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Widespread breeding resident in north west Somalia. 

Dicrurus adsimilis Fork-tailed Drongo 

Numerous in the Foret du Day with a maximum of 23 on 17 March. 
No previous Djibouti records. 
Common in all but coastal areas. 



20 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Buphagus erythrorhynchus Red-billed Oxpecker 

Only recorded around Colonie, feeding in association with domestic stock, with a maximum 
of 13 on 22 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Common throughout Eritrea (Smith 1957). 

Corvus splendens Indian House Crow 

Extremely numerous, many hundreds, around Djibouti city where a nest was found on 2 
April. Also up to 18 at Obock seen from 26 to 29 March. 

First noted in Djibouti in May 1958 (G. Clarke pers. comm.) but has since increased in 
numbers at an amazing rate, especially in the last few years - Ash (in prep.) recording only 25 + in 
December 1975. This increase appears to have been paralleled in other areas of East Africa. 

Corvus ruficollis Brown-necked Raven 

Two at Ambouli on 14 March. 
Fairly common in desert areas. 

Corvus rhipidurus Fan-tailed Raven 

Quite common in mountainous regions but also occuring at sea-level at Tadjourah. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident throughout but local below 1,000 metres. 

Onychognathus blythii Somali Chestnut-winged Starling 

Only recorded in the Foret du Day with a maximum of 14 on 19 March. 
Common resident mainly above 1 ,000 metres. 

Cinnyricinclus leucogaster Amethyst Starling 

Common around the Foret du Day, also 25 + near Tadjourah on 29 March and six at Arta on 
2 April. 

Resident in many areas but subject to local movements. 

Passer euchlorus Arabian Golden Sparrow 

Only recorded around Djibouti city and Dorale where it is quite common, with a maximum of 
120+ near Djibouti Prison on 14 March. This population appears to be increasing, Ash (in prep.) 
only recording 15 in December 1975. 

The only record from the surrounding area is of a breeding colony at Zeyla, Somalia (Archer 
&Godman 1937-1961). 

Passer griseus Grey-headed Sparrow 

Two at Obock on 27 March, with one there on 28 March, and two at Oueha on 2 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Resident in the highlands of north west Somalia (Archer & Godman 1937-1961) and in 
Western Eritrea below 1 ,200 metres (Smith 1957). 

Ploceus galbula Riippell 's Weaver 

Very common around habitation in Djibouti city, Dorale, Randa and Tadjourah. 
Abundant throughout especially on the coast. 

Lagonosticta senegala Red-billed Firefinch 

Up to 15 at Ambouli throughout and two at Arta on 1 April. 

Resident except in eastern areas of Eritrea, not recorded by Archer and Godman (1937-1961). 



21 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



Euodice malabarica Silverbill 

Two just west of Obock on 26 March, up to 12 around Arta on 1 and 2 April, four at Ambouli 
on 2 April and one at airport on 3 April. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Widely distributed throughout. 

Serinus atrogularis Yellow-rumped Seedeater 

20+ at Bankouale on 19 March and four at Wadi Ewali on 20 March. 

No previous Djibouti records. 

Presumed resident mainly above 1,000 metres. 

Emberiza tahapisi African Rock Bunting 

30+ near Tadjourah Mineral Water Bottling Plant on 20 and 26 March, 18 west of Obock on 
29 March and two at Arta on 2 April. 
No previous Djibouti records. 

Presumed common resident, often encountered in flocks. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Our thanks go to ICBP for encouraging us to go ahead with this project; to the many people 
and organizations who helped sponsor the venture, especially the Flora and Fauna Preservation 
Society, the World Pheasant Association and our respective mothers; Mr. I. C. J. Galbraith, head 
of the Sub-department of Ornithology at the British Museum (Natural History), Tring, who kindly 
allowed us access to the skin collection and reference library both before and after our trip and to 
Dr. Claude Chappuis for identifying a recording of Otus senegalensis. 

Our special thanks go to Jacques Blot, a french Ecology graduate working in Djibouti, who 
gave us much valuable information on the francolin and the Foret du Day, and insisted on acting as 
guide, chauffeur and hotelier throughout most of our stay. 

SUMMARY 

This paper gives details of 160 species of bird recorded during a three week expedition to 
Djibouti from 13 March to 3 April 1984, together with comments on their known status either in 
Djibouti or surrounding areas. Of these, 60 species appear not to have been documented as 
occurring before. The expedition had two main aims, a survey of the endemic Djibouti Francolin, 
Francolinus ochropectus, and a preliminary examination of raptor and seabird migration over and 
through the Bab-el-Mandeb straits. 

The francolin was found to be present in good numbers but its habitat, the Foret du Day, is 
disappearing, so its future survival is far from assured. Circumstances were such that it was not 
possible to spend much time on the north east coast but raptor migration was noted at three sites 
and further work in the area is desirable. 

A field description of the francolin is also given. Plates 1-10 illustrate a number of the 
principal habitats. 

REFERENCES 

ARCHER, G. & GODMAN, E. M. 1937-1961. The Birds of British Somali/and and the Gulf of 

Aden. Vols. 1-2. London; Vols. 3-4. Edinburgh. 
ASH, J. S. Bird Observations from Dibouti. Scopus (in prep.). 

BROWN, L. H., URBAN, E. K. & NEWMAN, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 1. London. 
DORST, J & JOUANIN, C. 1954. Precisions sur la position systematique et 1'habitat de 
Francolinus ochropectus. L'Oiseau et RFO 24: 161-170. 



22 



Sandgrouse 6 



Birds of Djibouti 



DORST, J & JOUANIN, C. 1952. Description d'une espece nouvelle de francolin d'afrique 

orientale. L 'Oiseau et RFO 22: 71-74. 
ELLIOT, H. F. I. 1952. Off-season sea-bird distribution on the Suez route to East Africa. Ibis 

94: 526-528. 

HEUGLIN, Dr. T. von. 1859. List of birds observed and collected during a voyage in the Red Sea. 
Ibis A: 337-352. 

HOWARD, R. & MOORE, A. 1980. A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Oxford. 
MADARASZ, J. 1915. A contribution to the ornithology of Danakil land. Ann. Nat. Mus. 

Hungary 13: 277-300. 
MEINERTZHAGEN, R. 1954. Birds of Arabia. Edinburgh. 

NAVEZ, A. 1981. Birdwatching in and around Djibouti City. Ethiopian Wildlife and Nat. Hist. 
Soc. Newsletter 158. 

OUSTALET, M. E. cl894. Note sur les oiseaux dans le Pays de (^omalis par M. G. Revoil. (This 
paper was found in a volume of miscellaneous French and German articles in the British 
Museum (Natural History). It is possible that it appeared in the Mem. Soc. Zool. France as 
this is probably the second half of a paper entitled "Les Mammiferes et les Oiseaux d'Obock 
et du Pays de Comalis" in volume VII: 73-78.). 

SIMONEAU, E.-L. c.1974. Les Animaux du Territoire Francois des Afars et des Issas Djibouti. 

SMITH, K. D. 1960. The passage of palearctic migrants through Eritrea. Ibis 102: 536-544. 

SMITH, K. D. 1957. An annotated checklist of the birds of Eritrea. Ibis Part 1 99: 1-26, Part 2 99: 
307-337. 

SMITH, K. D. 1955. Recent records from Eritrea. Ibis 97: 65-80. 

SMITH, K. D. 1953. Off-season sea-bird distribution on the Eritrean coast, Red Sea. Ibis 95: 
696-698. 

SMITH, K. D. 1951. On the birds of Eritrea. Ibis 93: 201-233. 
SMITH, K. D. 1944. Autumn passage migration in Eritrea. Ibis 86: 251-253. 
THESIGER; W. & MEYNELL, M. 1935. On a collection of birds from Danakil, Abyssinia. Ibis 
13:774-807. 

URBAN, E. K. & BROWN, L. H. 1971. A Checklist of the Birds of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa. 
VOOUS, K. H. 1977. List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species B.O.U ., London. 
WELCH, G. R. & WELCH, H. J. 1984. Djibouti Expedition - March 1984. A preliminary survey 
of Francolinus ochropectus and the birdlife of the country. Unpublished typescript. 

POSTSCRIPT 

We hope that this article may encourage more people to visit Djibouti and add to the 
knowledge of the birdlife of the area. We would, however, recommend that anyone thinking of 
going should do some very thorough research beforehand: Djibouti is a hot, inhospitable and very 
expensive country, difficult to get around in - and then only in a four-wheel drive vehicle. 

Details of our own expedition and information useful to those considering a visit are 
contained in our report "Djibouti Expedition - March 1984" available from the authors at the 
address at the end of this article, price £2.50 inclusive. 

Geoff and Hilary Welch, c/o 28 Coleman Avenue, Hove, Sussex, BN3 5NB. ENGLAND. 



23 



SELECTED OBSERVATIONS FROM LEBANON, SYRIA AND JORDAN IN THE 
SPRINGS OF 1963 AND 1966 

by 

D. I. M. Wallace 



INTRODUCTION 

On thirty days of the springs of 1963 and 1966, up to six British ornithologists, working in one 
or two parties, explored the areas of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan that lie between Beirut and 
Damascus and from Damascus south to Aqaba and Wadi Rum. Particular attention was given to 
the highlands of Jordan east of the Rift which had been and still are largely shunned by observers. 




Numbered localities 



1 


Beirut 


28 


Er Rabba 


2 


Aleih 


29 


Laijun 


3 


Bekaa 


30 


Karak 


4 


Baalbek 


31 


Rakin 


5 


Anti Lebanon 


32 


Wadi El Karak 


6 


Damascus 


33 


Safi 


7 


Sheik Mishin 


34 


Wadi Sultan 


8 


Ramtha 


35 


Wadi El Hasa 


9 


lrbid 


36 


Qalat El Hasa 


10 


Jebel Ailun/Dhibbin 


37 


Tafila 


11 


Jerash 


38 


Wadi Salim 


12 


Wadi Zarqa 


39 


Rashadiya 


13 


Er Rumman 


40 


Barra Forest/Wadi Dan 


14 


Suweilin 


41 


Shaubak 


15 


Salt 


42 


Jebel Sarab 


16 


Wadi Shueib 


43 


Nijil 


17 


Jordan Bridge/Wadi Kafrein 


44 


Wadi Musa 


18 


Hussein Bridge 


45 


Petra 


19 


Jericho 


46 


Uneiza 


20 


Jerusalem 


47 


Bayir 


21 


Qumran 


48 


El Jafr 


22 


Beersheba 


49 


Ma'an 


23 


Amman 


50 


Ras Ed Naqb 


24 


Naur 


51 


Quweira 


25 


Madaba 


52 


Wadi El Yutum 


26 


Wadi Wala 


53 


Aqaba 


27 


Wadi Mujib 


54 


Wadi Rum 



coastline 
inland w&ttrs »nd 
main watercourses 
t>olitic»l boundaries 
in t9«>oi 

routes of observers 
in /%3 &>d l%& 



Figure 1. Areas of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan explored in 1963 and 1966. 



24 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Indeed only Hollom (1959) has published any form of detailed records for that area. All the 
records from the 1960s have now been analysed as a disciplined product of the 132 observer/days. 
In spite of the passing of two decades, many of the specific results appear still to be important. 
They are presented here under three board divisions: resident or breeding species, species of 
uncertain status and migrants and vagrants. Figure 1 shows the main routes of the observers and 
the fifty-four localities featured in the systematic list. 

CHARACTER OF OBSERVATIONS AND ANALYSIS 

The observations of 1963 were greatly aided by P. A. D. Hollom who had explored much of 
the region in the spring of 1955 but since most observers were in new territory and facing many 
new or unfamiliar birds, identification problems were not infrequent. The observations of 1966 
were not so hampered and the final tally for the regions visited grew to 172 species. Of these, the 
records of 165 (divided into 71 non-passerine and 94 passerines) appear sufficietnly significant to 
merit mention in this paper. 

As Figure 1 makes clear, the majority of the stations chosen for observations were upland and 
there is, therefore, a bias in the systematic lists towards records from the Jordanian scarp on the 
east side of the Rift and the rolling uplands that lie further to the east. Of the thirty days of 
observations, only parts of six were given to exploration of the Rift floor, the River Jordan and the 
Dead Sea but ten days were spent at Wadi Rum in the southern desert. In spite of this rather 
uneven cover, the explorations spanned over 4° of latitude and 2,750 metres of height (from the 
level of the Dead Sea) and resulted in what is still the most extensive ornithological survey of west 
Jordan. 

Two major problems have confronted me during the analysis of records: the assessment of 
certain breeding behaviour and the limitation of breeding distribution. Given the patently 
approximate nature of most published distribution maps, I have resisted any jumped conclusions 
and placed several likely breeding species in the second division (uncertain status). In an attempt to 
add temporal editing to what follows, I approached Dr. J. E. Clarke who travelled widely in Jordan 
in the late 1970s and Lt. Col. A. M. Macfarlane who made many observations in Lebanon and 
Syria again in the later 1970s. Their responses to my texts formed the bases of many of the 
accompanying comments in the systematic lists. 



PRESENTATION OF THE RECORDS IN THE SYSTEMATIC LISTS 
Status and countries: 

Records are listed first for resident or breeding species, second for species of uncertain status 
and third for migrant or vagrant species and in the country order: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. 

Localities and regions: 

Because of the very limited literature dealing with the breeding birds of Jordan, localities are 
freely given under the three main regions of highlands, Rift and southern desert. These terms are 
qualified by ecological notes where possible but no classification of habitats (and their avian 
profiles) is attempted. 

Assessment of numbers: 

All birds were logged daily by count whenever possible and, in the context of the thirty days' 
observations, the scale of overall abundance afforded by comparisons among species can be taken 



25 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



as accurate. This scale cannot, however, be used as a measure of breeding bird numbers, due to the 
frequent confusion within species of breeding, migrant or uncertain birds. Where only one bird 
was seen, only the locality and date are given. 

Dating: 

Full details are usually given, with the day of the month standing alone at the beginning of a 
monthly series. 



Periods of observation and observers: 

12, 13, 20 April to 1 May 1963 
Jordan : mainly highlands 

2 to 12 May 1963 

Jordan : mainly southern desert 

16 to 20 April 1966 

Lebanon, Syria, Jordan : mainly highlands 



I. J. Ferguson-Lees, P. A. D. Hollom, 

E. Hosking, G. R. Mountfort, E. M. Nicholson, 

G. R. Shannon, D. I. M. Wallace, J. Wightman. 

As above but without I. J. F. L., E. M. N. and 
D. 1. M. W. 

Dr. J. Morton Boyd, D. 1. M. Wallace. 



SYSTEMATIC LISTS 

Resident or breeding species: 

70 species are listed here. All were certainly or apparently breeding, 16 providing 'first' and 
two 'first and only' records. 

Gypaetus barbatus Lammergeyer 

Jordan: Wadi Rum (Jebel urn Ishrin), pair at one of three previously used caves, apparently 
containing nest from which female called, at approach of male, 2 to 7 May 1963. Only evidence of 
breeding in Jordan. Apparently absent in the late 1970s (J. E. Clarke in lift.). 

Neophron percnopterus Egyptian Vulture 

Lebanon and Syria: between Beirut to Damascus, four, 18 April 1966. Jordan: highlands 
from Dhibbin south to Aqaba, 84 birds at 25 localities, 12 April to 12 May 1963. Breeding 
confirmed at Wadi Zarqa. 

Buteo rufinus Long-legged Buzzard 

Jordan: highlands from Wadi Zarqa south to Petra, at least 26 birds at 16 localities, including 
five apparent pairs, 25 April to 10 May; Wadi Rum, pair of distinctly small birds (probably of the 
race cirtensis of North Africa and Sinai), 26 April to 7 May 1963. Birds attached to nest and being 
mobbed by Falco peregrinus at Wadi El Hasa. Highland records include at least eight migrants. 
First evidence of breeding in Jordan. 

Hieraaetus fasciatus Bonelli's Eagle 

Jordan: Barra Forest, pair, 29, near Shaubak, one, 27 Petra, pair, 26 and 30 April 1963. 
Young calling from nest at Petra. Not seen in the late 1970s (J. E. Clarke, in litt.). Apparently the 
only breeding records for Jordan (cf. Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel 

Jordan: highlands, 130 birds at 18 localities, with at least nine breeding pairs from Karak 
south to Dana, 12 to 30 April 1963 and 1966. Food carrying and juvenile seen. Not mapped by 
Cramp & Simmons 1980 as breeding at last mentioned places. 



26 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Falco tinnunculus Kestrel 

Lebanon and Syria: Baalbek, pair at nest, 17, from Beirut to Damascus and south to Jordan 
border, 15 in 212 km., 18 April 1966. Jordan: highlands, c.355 birds at 35 localities included c.190 
breeding birds, most obvious from Wadi El Karak south to Petra, 12 April to 11 May 1963 and 
1966. Three nests, one with nearly fledged young. 

Alectoris chukar Chukar 

Jordan: highlands, 25 birds (in parties of up to 12) at four localities, from above Wadi Zarqa 
south to Barra Forest, 21 to 29 April 1963. Listed as A graeca by Hollom (1959) who found it only 
twice in 1955. Clearly scarce and local, as in basalt desert around Azraq and along the Trans- 
Arabian pipeline north of Azraq (Wallace 1983, J. E. Clarke, in litt.). 

Ammoperdix heyi Sand Partridge 

Jordan: highlands, 26 birds (in parties of up to five) at five localities from Wadi Zarqa south 
to Wadi Rum, 13 April to 10 May; Rift, three pairs and three males at bottom of Wadi El Karak 
and near Safi, 23 April 1963. Breeding behaviour apparently confined to courtship and song, latter 
written 'hewk' and repeated regularly and slowly up to 20 times from (often prominent) perch. 
Badly misnamed in above areas, inhabiting grassy and rocky slopes and valleys and barren cliff 
bases. Still present at several places in the highlands in the late 1970s but "surprisingly 
uncommon" (J. E. Clarke in litt.). 

Chlamydotis undulata Houbara 

Jordan: southern desert, parent with two eggs in nest (later robbed) at El Jafr, 4 May 1963. 
The only certain breeding record for the country. 

Cursorius cursor Cream-coloured Courser 

Jordan: Rift, pair near Safi, 23 April 1963. Birds sandier on mantle than those at Azraq; first 
evidence of breeding in the Rift. Totally absent from southern desert and again so in the late 1970s 
(J. E. Clarke in litt.). 

Columba livia Rock Dove (and Feral Pigeon) 

Lebanon and Syria: Beirut to Baalbek, "scattered flocks" of feral birds, 17, Damascus south 
to Jordan border, 29 birds, probably all feral, 18 April 1966. Pure-blooded wild birds also absent 
from Lebanon in 1955 (Hollom 1959). Jordan: highlands, 765 wild birds at over 20 localities, from 
Wadi Zarqa south to Aqaba and Wadi Rum, 13 April to 12 May 1963. Nests. 

Streptopelia senegalensis Palm Dove 

Lebanon and Syria: Beirut, 15 at American University, 16; 10 in docks, 17; Damascus, two, 
18 April 1966. None in Jordan in 1963 or 1966, as in 1955 (Hollom 1959). 

Otus scops Scops Owl 

Jordan: highlands, Karak, seen and heard calling, 21 and 22 April, Gibeiha, two calling, 9 
May; between Karak and Barra Forest, three or four silent birds either this species or O. brucei, 24 
and 25 April 1963. Difference in call rhythms of O. scops and O. brucei not known to observers in 
1963 but the first three sounded identical to European O. scops in both call tone and pace. 

A thene noctua Little Owl 

Jordan: highlands, seven birds at six widely scattered localities, from Suweilin south to Wadi 
Musa, 12 to 28 April 1963. Seen at only two localities in 1955 (Hollom 1959) and thus scarce, 
though clearly widespread. 



27 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Halcyon smyrnensis White-breasted Kingfisher 

Jordan: Rift, one at Hussein Bridge, 21 April and 11 May 1963. Still present about 30 km. 
north of above locality in the late 1970s (J. E. Clarke in litt.). 

Merops apiaster Bee-eater 

Jordan: highlands, Wadi El Hasa, 75 apparently settled birds, near old nest holes, 23 April 
1963. Apparently the first evidence of breeding in Jordan. 

Upupa epops Hoopoe 

Jordan: highlands, 23 birds at eleven localities from north of Amman south to Barra Forest 
and Shaubak, including three pairs but also some migrants, 13 April to 12 May 1963. Copulation. 

A mmomanes cincturus Bar-tailed Desert Lark 

Jordan: highlands, Laijun, 24; Wadi Rum, at least two, 27 April, 2 and 3 May; southern 
desert, east of highlands, from Wadi El Hasa and south to Quweira, probably present but 
identifications subject to confusion with pale A. deserti and possibly Eremalauda dunni, 27 and 28 
April 1963. First bird listed above provides only evidence of high altitude occurrence in Jordan. 

Ammomanes deserti Desert Lark 

Jordan: highlands, c.210 birds at 27 localities, Wadi Es Sayii (east of Amman), and from 
Wadi El Karak south to Aqaba and at Wadi Rum, 14 April to 8 May 1963; Rift, Jericho, 9 May, 
Qumran, two, 21, south-eastern shore of Dead Sea and in rocky areas around Ghor Es Safi, 
"quite common", even on crop edges, 23 April 1963. These and Azraq records (Wallace 1984) 
show A. deserti to be widespread in Jordan. Absences were noted, however, around Amman, 
south from there to Ma'an (along the desert highway from which A. cincturus often suspected) 
and over level southern desert from Ma'an to El Jafr and away from Wadi Rum. As first indicated 
by Meinertzhagen (1954), A. deserti is a bird of rocky habitats, occurring up to 1,450 metres a.s.l. 
At Barra Forest, present exceptionally in grassy glades among trees. Highland breeding activity 
well established by 21 April. Song of highland birds much more developed than those haunting 
basalt around Azraq. Quiet clucking alarm note heard from a pair with a nest. 

Plumage variation in highland birds marked with the palest, olive-toned morphs in jebel 
wadis at Wadi Rum, dark, grey-toned ones in the high hills - with obvious breast marks around 
Karak but without them and with more uniform mantles and less marked tails between Nijil and 
Barra Forest - but no sooty-toned ones - like annae at Azraq - on the basalt outcrop between Nijil 
and Uneiza. Bill length also varied, with Karak birds strikingly long-billed compared to those at 
Wadi Rum and Azraq. 

Alaemon alaudipes Hoopoe Lark 

Jordan: east highlands, near Jebel Uneiza, 26, near Qalat El Hasa, 28 April; southern desert, 
around El Jafr, three, 6 May 1963. Highland habitats steppic, close to basalt outcrops. 

Melanocorypha calandra Calandra Lark 

Syria and Jordan: steppe and highlands, obvious in cereal crops, fresh plough and (once) 
seedling plantation, in altitudinal range of 230 to 1,250 metres a.s.l; highest rate of vehicle 
observation one bird/km. in area of basalt steppe 70 to 80 km. south of Damascus and in rolling 
limestone hills around Amman but densest populations in well advanced cereals at Rabba, west of 
Suweilin and from Karak to Wadi El Hasa; last locality formed southern limit of M. calandra in 
Jordan, save for two in cereal patch at Ma'an; 12 April to 1 1 May 1963 and 1966. 

Population south of Amman in 1963 considered much less dense than in 1955, a year of better 



2H 



Sand grouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



rainfall and more advanced cereal growth (P. A. D. Hollom, pers. com.). Highland population 
not mentioned by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Calandrella brachydactyla Short-toed Lark 

Jordan: highlands, c.140 birds at six localities, with settled birds and six certain pairs at two 
places but one concentration of 60 containing either migrants or breeding birds without territories, 
from Dhibbin south to Nijil, 14 April to 1 May; Rift, near Safi, four, 23 April 1963. Distribution 
accords with that noted by Hollom (1959) in 1955. Highland population not mentioned oy 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Calandrella rufescens Lesser Short-toed Lark 

Syria: basalt steppe, from 24 to 112 km. south of Damascus, 13 at three cultivated localities, 
18 April 1966. Jordan: Rift, near Safi, one, 23 April 1963. Last surprisingly the only Jordan 
observation away from Azraq, where C. rufescens common (Wallace 1983) and known since 1922 
(Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Galerida cristata Crested Lark 

Syria: highlands, about 30 km. west of Damascus, 18 April 1966. Jordan: highlands, from 
Ramtha south to Wadi Musa and (once) Quweira, also at four places on desert highway between 
Amman and Ma'an, obvious but not everywhere vcommon in marginal cultivation, stony and 
disturbed ground and open wadis up to 1,530 metres a.s.l., greatest concentrations 30 birds at 
Wadi Zarqa and eight pairs at head of Wadi El Karak, otherwise counts at 15 other localities 
summed to only c.75, 12 April to 12 May 1963 and 1966; Rift, between Salt and Jericho, very few, 
21, near Safi, common in cultivation, 23 April 1963; southern desert, definitely absent from Wadi 
Rum and not seen at Aqaba. Where competing with M. calandra, Largely restricted to less fertile 
ground; where not, noticeably commoner in all cultivation. Hollom (1959) listed his 1955 records 
of Galerida larks under the joint heading of G. cristata or G. theklae. Latter not even suspected in 
any country in 1963 and 1966. 

Eremophila bilopha Temminck's Horned Lark 

Jordan: highland skirt and southern desert, Beersheba, 5, 20 April 1966, desert highway from 
20 km. south of Amman south to Ma'an, west up Wadi El Hasa and east to El Jafr (but not Wadi 
Rum), obvious, probably common -with chance observations of c.80 birds mostly from vehicles 
on five days - and in altitudinal range of 370 to 1,230 metres, a.s.l., 27 to 30 April, 6 and 9 May 
1963. At Beersheba feeding along a busy street, oblivious of people and donkeys (the only 
observation of a desert species taking advantage of an urban food source). 

Ptyonoprogne fuligula Pale Crag Martin 

Jordan: highlands, over 300 at 16 localities but at least 55 probably migrants, from Wadi El 
Karak south to Petra (where most common breeding passerine) and on to Quweira and Wadi 
Rum, 22 April to 9 May 1963. Breeding activity limited to courtship and nest building. 

Hirundo daurica Red-rumped Swallow 

Jordan: highlands and Rift, at least ten pairs or settled groups at seven localities, from Jerash 
south to Amman and at Hussein Bridge and Jericho, 12 April to 11 May 1963. Only migrants in 
other areas. Hollom (1959) found it obvious in the northern Rift in 1955. Breeding at Jericho 
mentioned by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Anthus similis Long-billed Pipit 

Jordan: highlands, 33 birds at 1 1 localities, near Suweilin from Tafila south to Petra, and at 
Wadi Rum, 24 April to 4 May 1963. Breeding activity not well advanced but food carrying noted 



29 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



30 April. Song simple but often amplified by echo; first note rather grating and bunting-like, 
second more musical, written "chree-chewit. Call from flushed birds written "che-vlee". Not 
listed for Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954) or by Hollom (1959). 

Pycnonotus xanthopygos Black-capped Bulbul 

Lebanon: Beirut, American University, 20, 16 April 1966. Jordan: western slopes of 
highlands, c.135 at 18 localities from Wadi Zarqa south to Petra, ascending to 1,200 metres a.s.i, 
with major concentrations of 50 at Barra Forest and 25 at Petra, 12 April to 10 May; Rift, near 
Safi, 40, 23 April, Salt to Hussein Bridge, odd birds, 11 May 1963. Breeding activity not well 
advanced; most birds paired but food carrying not seen. One nest in oleander was one metre high, 
untidy and shrike-like in structure, with 7x5 cm. cup well woven with grass and reed down; 
contained two eggs, basically off-white with thick rusty-brown speckles and blotches. Not listed as 
breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Cercotrichas galactotes Rufous Bush Chat 

Jordan: highlands, c.70 at 15 localities, ascending to 1,300 metres a.s.L, from Wadi Zarqa 
south to Petra; Rift, around Jordan and Hussein Bridges and at Jericho, at least 20 pairs, near Safi, 
over 100, 12 April to 11 May 1963. Breeding activity obvious from 21 April; two nests found in 
flood wrack caught in oleander bushes. 

Cercomela melanura Blackstart 

Jordan: Rift scarp, c.46 birds (including eight pairs) at six localities, from Wadi Shueib south 
to Wadi El Karak and near Safi, 21 to 24 April, Wadi El Yutum, 12 km. north of Aqaba, 5 May 
1963. Apparent absence between Wadi El Karak and Aqaba probably a consequence of observer 
routes; bird appears to prefer west facing re-entrants in east scarp and such not explored south of 
Safi. None above 500 metres a.s.l. 

Phoenicurus ochruros Black Redstart 

Jordan: near Rabba, a pair attached to stone dyke, 21 April 1963. Meinertzhagen (1954) listed 
the race semirufa as "breeding in Syria and north Palestine". 

Oenanthe isabellina Isabelline Wheatear 

Syria: steppe and basalt, between 14 and 38 km. south of Damascus, four 18, April 1966. 
Jordan: highlands, c.90 birds at 13 localities, from Karak and El Qahrana south to Ras Ed Naqb, 
eight certainly breeding pairs confined to high rolling hills between Laijun and Dana, 24 to 30 
April; southern desert, Wadi Rum, two, 2 May, near El Jafr, two, 6 May 1963. Most obvious in 
upland steppe and in marginal cultivation. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Oenanthe hispanica Black -eared Wheatear 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, at least 250 at c.36 localities, from Anti Lebanon 
south to below Ma'an, 12 April to 10 May 1963 and 1966. Commonest Oenanthe of above region. 
Breeding activity well advanced with food carrying noted on 25 and juveniles seen on 27 April. 
Black-throated males outnumbered pale-thi oated ones by 2-3:1. Not listed as breeding in Jordan 
by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Oenanthe deserti Desert Wheatear 

Syria: within 14 km. west of Damascus and in basalt steppe within 24 km. south of Damascus, 
two single birds, 18 April 1966, apparently the first records for the country (A. M. Macfarlane, in 
lift.). Jordan: highlands, Qalat El Hasa, a pair, 24, from Rashadiya to Wadi Musa, four single 
birds, 24, 28 and 30 April 1963. Hollom (1959) did not find O. deserti in Lebanon and Syria in 



30 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



1955 but listed one for the Jordan highlands, at Buseira on 2 May. Above records fall within area 
mapped by Harrison (1981) but the Jordanian altitudes (up to 1,400 metres a. 5./.) are unusual. 

Oenanthe moesta Red-rumped Wheatear 

Jordan: highlands, near Laijun, two pairs with broods of 3 and 4 a few days out of nest, 24, 
near Nijil, male, 27 April 1963. Laijun habitat a fairly narrow valley with large boulders and very 
little scrub, with one pair close to ruins of Roman fort; quite unlike normal steppe niche. Common 
in steppic habitat north of Ma'an and east of Nijil in the late 1970s (J. E. Clarke, in lift.). Another 
highland population which escaped the net of Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Oenanthe lugens Mourning Wheatear 

Jordan: highlands, c.135 birds at 16 localities, from Wadi Wala south to Wadi El Yutum and 
Ras Ed Naqb, marked concentrations of 27 in Wadi Mujib and 23 in Wadi El Hasa, 21 to 28; Rift, 
between Hussein Bridge and Jericho, two, 21; Wadi Rum, at least four pairs, 27 April to 8 May 
1963. Second commonest Oenanthe of above region, outnumbering O. hispanica in southern 
third. Breeding activity well advanced; six nests found, three with eggs on 27 and 28, one with food 
carrying parent on 21 and one with young about a week old on 24 April. 

Broad mapping of O. lugens across flat desert (e.g. Harrison 1981) not justified. In Jordan, 
O. lugens essentially a bird of upland or broken habitats ranging from level stony steppe to steep- 
sided wadis, particularly suited by roadside diggings. 

Oenanthe monacha Hooded Wheatear 

Jordan: Wadi El Karak, pair courting at lower end, 23, Wadi El Yutum below Jebel Bajir, 
male, 27 April 1963. The second locality is outside the Jordan range given by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Oenanthe leucopyga White-crowned Black Wheatear 

Jordan: highlands, nine (including two pairs) at five localities, from Wadi El Karak south to 
Petra, 22 to 30: southern hills and desert, 55 birds at five localities, from Wadi El Yutum, towards 
and at Wadi Rum, with concentration of 15 pairs at last locality, 27 April to 8 May 1963. Breeding 
pairs at Wadi Rum had young in nest on 6 and 7 and three and one fledglings out on 6; feeding 
territories extended up to 150 metres and were defended up to 135 metres from nest site. Song 
loud and musical; calls unusual in tone, including a rather low-pitched and quiet disyllable written 
'trip-trip' and a low rattle 'r-r-r-r-r'. Conspicuous when courting, with male performing striking 
forward bow accompanied by opening wings and raising forward of tail. 

Of 37 birds closely inspected, only 7 showed white on crown. Such a ratio also noted in the 
late 1970s (J. E. Clarke, in lift.). Restricted to Dead Sea Depression and Aqaba by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Monticola solitarius Blue Rock Thrush 

Jordan: highlands, 1 1 birds (including three pairs) at six localities, from Wadi Zarqa south to 
Petra, 24 April to 11 May 1963. Food carrying at Dana and Petra and hole entry at Barra Forest 
considered conclusive of breeding and marked southward extension of range (cf. Meinertzhagen 
1954, Vaurie 1959). Hollom (1959) saw this species as Salt in 1955. 

Cisticola juncidis Fan-tailed Warbler 

Syria: Damascus, 18 April 1966. Jordan: Safi, two males in song in irrigated cultivation, 23 
April 1963. Totally absent from highlands. 

Prinia gracilis Graceful Warbler 

Lebanon: American University of Beirut, two singing cocks and another bird, 18 April 1966, 
breeding annually in early 1960s (R. E. Lewis, pers. com.). Jordan: highlands, 47 birds at four 



31 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



localities, from Jerash south to Wadi El Hasa, with at least 12 pairs at Wadi Zarqa (where 
commonest passerine), 12 to 24; Rift, Jordan and Hussein Bridges, 'many pairs' (2nd commonest 
passerine), Wadi Shueib, five, 21, near and at Safi, 30, 23 April 1963. Distribution markedly local, 
due to preference for dense ground cover. Breeding activity well advanced, with nest building from 
13 to 21 April, three eggs in nest 10 May, young in nest 10 May, newly fledged young 11 May. 
Commonest calls a titter recalling Troglodytes troglodytes and a quieter note recalling Riparia 
riparia. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Scotocerca inquieta Scrub Warbler 

Jordan: highlands, 36 birds at eight localities, from Wadi El Karak to Petra, 22 to 30; 
southern desert, Wadi Rum, at least 13 pairs, 28 April to 9 May, El Jafr, one, 6 May 1963. 
Breeding activity well advanced, with nest building 29 April, eggs in nest 9 May and food carrying 
or young in nest 25 April to 8 May. Four nests were 10 cm. to 2 metres high, in bugioss, oleander, 
juniper and retama; oval-shaped with dome, composed of dead bugioss stems, 'coarse bents' and 
juniper twigs, up to 20 cm. long and 14 cm. wide, with side entrance pointed towards centre of 
supporting plant. Eggs white with rusty spots over large end. Song ends with notes recalling 
Lullula arborea, written "tee-tee-tee-lu-lu-lu"; call a clear, high-pitched disyllable, written "te- 
he" or "che-wee". Restricted by Meinertzhagen (1954) to Petra. 

Acrocephalus scirpaceus Reed Warbler 

Jordan: Rift, River Jordan at Jordan and Hussein Bridges, obvious, with one pair every 20 
metres at former bridge, 21 April and 11 May 1963. Meinertzhagen (1954) gave only "south 
Palestine" as a breeding area. 

Hippolais pallida Olivaceous Warbler 

Jordan: highlands, at least 112 birds but only four certain pairs at 14 localities, from Jerash 
south to Tafila, 12 to 28 April; Rift, Jordan and Hussein Bridges, up to 11, 21 April and 11 May, 
near and at Safi, 12, 23 April 1963. Majority of birds probably migrants but nest building 
observed at Wadi Zarqa and Wadi El Karak. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Sylvia conspicillata Spectacled Warbler 

Jordan: highlands, Wadi Zarqa, male, 12, Wadi Dana, two males in song and two cocks' 
nests found, Jebel Sarab, male in song, Tafila, pair, 25 April 1963. Listed as breeding in Jordan by 
Meinertzhagen (1954) but (for once) the additional comment of "not uncommon in the desert 
round Azraq" (where unrecorded in the 1960s and 1970s) suggests loose identification. 

Sylvia melanocephala Sardinian Warbler 

Syria: Anti Lebanon, near Lebanon border, two males in song, 18 April 1966. Jordan: 
highlands, 25 birds (eight males) at six localities, from Ramtha south to Dana; Rift, near Safi, two 
males, 12 April to 10 May 1963 and 1966. Listed as breeding species due to apparent residence at 
Wadi Zarqa. 

Turdoides squamiceps Arabian Babbler 

Jordan: near Safi, five, including two males in song, in tamarisk and acacia scrub, 23, bottom 
of Wadi El Hasa, at least five, carrying nesting material, in oleander and other bushes, 24 April 
1963. 

Parus major Great Tit 

Syria and Jordan: highlands, 46 birds at 12 localities, in Anti Lebanon range and from 
Ramtha south to Petra, including 20 in olive groves at Tafila, 12 April to 10 May 1963 and 1966. 
Fledged young on 18 April. 



32 




Plate 1. Good francolin habitat showing state of even "healthy" primary juniper forest - Garrab plateau, 
March 1984. Photograph G. and H. Welch. 

Plate 2. Plain below Colonic Formerly juniper forest, cleared for grazing cl980, and now semi-desert. 
Note typical morning low cloud, a major source of water for much of the vegetation. 
Photograph G. and H. Welch. 

Plate 3. View north-east from behind Colonic This area would have been juniper forest c500 years ago. 
Photograph G. and H. Welch. 



Plate 4. View eastwards down Goh showing general 
scenery and lush vegetation in wadi bottom. 
Photograph G. and H. Welch. 

Plate 5. Lush vegetation at bottom of Goh, the 
main wadi of the area. Photograph G. and 
H. Welch. 

Plate 6. Wadi at Bankouale with a significant stand 
of the Bankouale Palm, Wissmania 
carinensis. Photograph G. and H. Welch. 







i 















P/tfte 7. 




Plate 8. 



Plate 7. Acacia steppe on outskirts of Tadjourah. Photograph G. and H. Welch. 

Plate 8. Volcanic plain between Tadjourah and Obock, typical of much of the country. Photograph G. 
andH. Welch. 




Plate 9. Ras Siyan. Photograph G. and H. Welch. 



Plate 10. Section of road to Ras Bir Lighthouse over old coral showing need for four wheel drive vehicle. 
Most roads have hazards like this. Photograph G. and H. Welch. 



Plate 11. 



Plate 12. 



Plate 11. Booted Eagle Hieraatus pennatus in intermediate plumage, Eilat, April 1981. Photograph V. 
Holmgren. 

Plate 12. Booted Eagle Hieraatus pennatus in intermediate plumage, Eilat, March 1976. Photograph R. 
F. Porter. 




Plate 13. An Nafud (sand desert). Haloxylon persicum salt-bushes. Edge of large dune and deep pit. 
October 1983. Photograph A. A. Green. 

Plate 14. Jebel Rafin At Tawil (sandstone massif) viewed from edge of An Nafud (sand desert) in August 
1983. The large salt-bushes are Haloxylon persicum. Photograph A. A. Green. 



Plate 16. 



Plate 15. Wadi A I Louaysia in A I Harrah (volcanic-basalt area) in April 1983 after rainfall when water 
has collected in pools in the wadi basin. A few waders seen here. Photograph A. A. Green. 

Plate 16. Flock of sheep grazing on the limestone plateau of Al Hamad in January 1984. Photograph 
A. A. Green. 




Plate 17. Abdullah's Farm, 25 km. east of Sakakah in December 1983. Tamarix sp. windbreak, green ! 
fields of alfalfa, and newly sprouting wheat. Photograph A. A. Green. 

Plate 18. View north across marshes and the lake at Al Jawf in January 1984. The town is to the left and 
the escarpment to the right. Photograph A. A. Green. 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Nectarinia osea Palestine Sunbird 

Jordan: highlands, at least 18 (only five hens) at seven localities, from Wadi Zarqa south to 
Wadi Musa, ascending to 1,300 metres a.s.L, 12 April to 10 May 1963. Breeding activity well 
advanced. Nest at Wadi Zarqa hung from bramble 1.8 metres over stream bed, 17 cm. deep with 3 
x 2.5 cm. entrance near top and inclined at 80°, made from leaves, grasses, seed heads and lined 
with feathers. Commonest food plant Anchusa, also Psoreala and pomegranite. Meinertzhagen 
(1954) restricted it to the Jordan Valley, north from the Dead Sea. 

Lanius excubitor Great Grey Shrike 

Jordan: Rakin, male in song and defending territory, 22, Wadi El Hasa, two birds and another 
flushed from nest, with three eggs, 24 April; El Jafr, 6 May 1963. As at Azraq (Wallace, 1963), far 
from common but clearly widespread, as it was still in the late 1970s (J. E. Clarke, in litt.). 
Altitudes of first two localities higher than those implied by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Lanius senator Woodchat 

Syria: in Anti Lebanon range, three males in song, 18 April 1966. Jordan: highlands, 50 birds 
at 13 localities, from 8 km. north of Jerash south to Shaubak, including at least eight pairs between 
Tafila and Barra Forest, 12 April to 10 May; Rift, below Salt, three, 11 May, near Safi, one, 23 
April 1963. Majority of above clearly migrants but concentration of paired birds in central 
highlands clearly indicative of breeding there. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Lanius nubicus Masked Shrike 

Syria: in Anti Lebanon, male in song, 18 April 1966. Jordan: highlands, 98 birds at 18 
localities, from Jerash south to Petra, including nine settled pairs and at least seven courting birds, 
12 April to 12 May; Rift, near Safi and towards bottom of Wadi El Karak, at least 30 at three 
localities, including deserted nest at Safi, 22 and 23 April; southern desert, in Wadi Rum and at 
Aqaba, 20 at three localities, including territorial birds and apparent pair at Wadi Rum, 28 April 
to 7 May 1963. Majority of above clearly migrants but southern birds indicative of potential 
breeding below normal range. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Garrulus glandarius Jay 

Jordan: Jebel Ailun, three in suitable breeding habitat, 12 April 1963, within 11 km. south of 
Ramtha, four collecting food, 18 April 1966. Quite common at Dhibbin in the late 1970s (J. E. 
Clarke, in litt.). 

Corvus corone Crow 

Syria and Jordan: highlands, 41 at 13 localities, from 28 km. west of Damascus south to 
Zarqa and Er Rumman, 12 April to 12 May 1963 and 1966. 

Corvus ruficollis Brown-necked Raven 

Corvus corax Raven 

Syria: Anti Lebanon, about 30 km. west of Damascus, C. corax, 18 April 1966. Jordan: from 
around Jerash south to Amman and on to Karak, Shaubak and Wadi Dana, 87 birds at 18 
localities, all certainly or apparently C. corax; at Karak and Wadi Dana, single C. ruficollis; south 
of Wadi Dana, three birds at two localities, unidentified; highland skirt and desert, from 20 km. 
south of Amman south to Aqaba, c.200 birds at least 14 localities, all certainly or apparently C. 
ruficollis, east of Amman along pipeline highway to H4, a few birds, all apparently C. ruficollis; 
Rift, Safi, one, unidentified: southern Desert, Wadi Rum, one pair, apparently C. ruficollis, 12 
April to 10 May 1963, 1965 and 1966. 

Distinguishing C. ruficollis from C. corax no easy task but range of latter certainly extends 
south to Amman. Breeding activity noted only for C. ruficollis, with nests on telegraph poles and 



33 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



capstones. The biotopic divide between the two species was well drawn by Meinertzhagen (1954) 
but he was unable to list C. corax for Jordan. 

Corvus rhipidurus Fan-tailed Raven 

Jordan: highlands and Rift scarp, c.150 at eight localities, from Wadi El Karak south to Petra, 
in flocks of up to 80, 23 to 30; southern hills and desert, Aqaba, two, Wadi Rum, up to six, 27 
April to 9 May 1963. Observed breeding activity restricted to four settled pairs, one with cliff nest. 
Feeding behaviour varied from 'gleaning' among crops, like C. frugilegus, to searching of fleece 
of camels, including anal area. Meinertzhagen (1954) gave "about Jericho" as the northern limit 
for this species. 

Onychognathus tristramii Tristram's Grackle 

Jordan: Rift, lower part of Wadi El Karak and near Safi, 36 birds (including flock of 31), 22 
and 23; highlands, at least 250 birds at four localities, from Wadi Dana south to Petra, with south- 
eastward movement of up to 211 noted over last named place, 26 to 30 April; Wadi Rum, two, 2 
May 1963. Breeding activity not well advanced, but song and courtship noted from 26 April. Call 
loud and fluting, recalling Sturnus vulgaris and Oriolus orioius, written 'chee-oo-wee'. 
Distribution extended along shore of Dead Sea north of Wadi El Karak in the late 1970s (J. E. 
Clarke, in litt.) and its northern limit was given as "about Jericho" by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Passer domesticus House Sparrow 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: present in at least 38 towns, village and human outposts, 
ascending to 1,100 metres a.s.l. , in concentrations of up to 75, 12 April to 11 May 1963 and 1966. 
Not seen in southern desert at El Jafr and Wadi Rum in the 1960s but present at Bayir in the late 
1970s (J.E. Clarke, in litt,). 

Passer hispaniolensis Spanish Sparrow 

Jordan: highlands, at least 322 at nine localities, from Wadi Zarqa south to Wadi El Hasa, in 
concentrations up to 175 (roost), 13 April to 10 May 1963. Nests seen in willow and poplar. 
Apparently the southernmost records of breeding birds for the longitude. Meinertzhagen (1954) 
restricted it to the Jordan Valley. 

Passer moabiticus Dead Sea Sparrow 

Jordan: River Jordan, junction with Wadi Kafrein, 25 nests 3 to 5 metres high in 400 metres 
of tamarisk; near Hussein Bridge, 35 nests 1 to 13 metres high in eucalyptus and tamarisk; near 
Safi, 10 nests 2 to 3 metres high in tamarisk, 21 and 23 April 1963. Size of Hussein bridge colony- 
considered to be ten times larger than in 1955 (P. A. D. Hollom pers. com.). Numbers of birds 
difficult to estimate but certainly several scores at both River Jordan haunts and one score at Safi. 
Breeding activity not pronounced in April but return visit to Hussein Bridge colony on 1 1 May 
1963 found birds building, copulating and with eggs. Nest like small version of that of Pica pica, 
about 30 cm. high and 50 cm. wide, built of twigs up to 22 cm. long and lined with vegetable down. 
Eggs off-white with sepia, purple-brown and (one) black speckles and squiggles at large end. The 
Safi colony extends distribution in the Rift by the length of the Dead Sea (cf. Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Petronia petronia Rock Sparrow 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, c.380 at 16 localities, from Aleih south to Petra, 
including 300 at last named place, 18 April to 12 May 1963 and 1966. 

Serinus syriacus Syrian Serin 

Jordan: Barra Forest, at least 25, probably over 30, in open oak and juniper stands, 25 and 29 
April 1963. Paired adults and juveniles. Clear extension of breeding range southwards from 
Lebanon and Syria. 



34 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Carduelis chloris Greenfinch 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, at least 63 at 12 localities, from hills east of Bekaa 
south to Tafila, 12 April to 11 May 1963 and 1966. Partial extension of breeding range south 
within Jordan. 

Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, over 400 at least 25 localities, from Bekaa south 
Petra; Rift, Wadi Shueib, two, near Safi, pair, 12 April to 1 1 May 1963 and 1966. 

Carduelis cannabina Linnet 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, over 218 at least 17 localities, from Bekaa south to 
Petra, 12 April to 1 1 May 1963 and 1966. As with C. carduelis, confirmation of virtually complete 
occupation of Jordanian uplands (cf. Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Bucanetes githagineus Trumpeter Finch 

Jordan: highlands, Shaubak, pair, 25 April, near Quweira four, 5 May, Wadi Rum, up to 12, 
4 to 7 May 1963. Breeding activity seen only at last locality where pair entered horizontal cliff 
crevice with nesting material on 7 May but all birds noisy. Call a harsh 'chizz' with curious buzzing 
quality recalling sound of telephone control box; frequently interjected into song. Distribution in 
1963 rather more southerly than implied by Harrison (1981) but with a nomadic species, annual 
changes to range to be expected. 

Carpodacus synoicus Sinai Rosef inch 

Jordan: Wadi Dana, at least four males, 29, Petra, at least 14 males and nine females, 26 and 
30, Wadi Rum, at least 10 males and five females, 27 April to 9 May 1963. Total of 42 birds 
minimal, due to initial confusion of females with Petronia brachydactyla and Bucanetes 
githagineus. Breeding activity obvious but not well advanced; display and copulation seen on 26 
April and 7 and 9 May. Commonest call a rather quiet 'cherp' or 'tsiup'; also a buzzing sound 
during male's display which included uptilting of head and 'inflation' of breast feathers. Complete 
association with sandstone cliffs. Meinertzhagen (1954), restricted this species to "Petra and 
slightly south towards Aqaba"; the 1960 observations virtually doubled that range. 

Emberiza caesia Cretzschmar's Bunting 

Jordan: highlands, 31 birds at eight localities, from Wadi Zarqa south to Wadi Dana, 
including six pairs, 12 to 29 April 1963. Breeding activity limited to courtship and song. Not listed 
as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Milaria calandra Corn Bunting 

Syria and Jordan: upland steppe and highlands, only 11 at six localities, from 14 km. west of 
Damascus south to Suweilin, 12 to 21 April 1963 and 1966. Breeding activity restricted to song. 
Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Species of uncertain status 

Twenty-nine species are listed here. At least ten were probably breeding; nine could have been 
migrants or late-staying winter visitors. 

Gyps fulvus Griffon Vulture 

Lebanon: over farm of American University of Beirut, two, near Baalbek, 16 April 1966, all 
three almost certainly migrants, "there being no recent evidence of breeding in the Lebanon or 
Anti Lebanon ranges" (A. M. Macfarlane in litt.). Jordan: highlands, c.50 at 18 localities, from 
Ramtha south to Ma'an, particularly between Karak and Ma'an, in groups up to seven, 16 April to 
1 1 May; southern desert, Wadi Rum, one or two, 27 April, 2 and 4 May 1963. Noted as "locally 
more numerous" than Neophron percnopterus in the Jordan hills in 1955 (Hollom 1959) but not 
listed as breeding by Meinertzhagen (1954). 



35 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Aegypicus monachus Black Vulture 

Lebanon: near Aleih, 18 April 1966. Not seen in Lebanon and observed only once in Syria 
from 1974 to 1977 (A. M. Macfarlane, in litt.). Jordan: Qalat.El Hasa, 24 April, near Ma'an, 4 
May 1963. Also seen at Buseira in 1955 (Hollom 1959). Neither this species nor last mapped as 
breeding in Jordan by Cramp and Simmons (1980) but persistence of their occurrence in suitable 
breeding habitat over 1 1 years notable. Certain breeding in the Syrian Desert noted by 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Circaetus gallicus Short-toed Eagle 

Jordan: Barra Forest, up to four (three calling and displaying), 29, 14 more at nine localities, 
from Wadi Zarqa south to near Shaubak, 13 April to 1 1 May 1963. Not mapped as breeding in the 
Jordan hills by Cramp and Simmons (1980) but courtship unlikely from migrants. 

Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle 

Jordan: highlands, from Wadi Mujib south to Shaubak, four adults and one immature at five 
localities, 21 to 29 April 1963. No evidence of breeding but given extreme scarcity of this eagle as a 
migrant in the Rift (Christensen, et al, 1981), these records may well have been of prospecting 
birds, now established in the opposite region of Israel (Cramp & Simmons, 1980). 

Falco biarmicus Lanner 

Jordan: Wadi Dana, 25, near Shaubak, 28 April 1963. Also seen at Kallia in 1955 (Hollom 
1959). Localities within known range, listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Falco cherrug Saker 

Lebanon: Beirut airport, 1 May 1963, apparently the last certain record for the country (A. 
M. Macfarlane, in litt.). Jordan: Wadi Mujib, two, 21 April, Wadi Rum, 7 May 1963. Late for 
migrants. 

Falco peregrinus Peregrine 
F. pelegrinoides Barbary Falcon 

Jordan: Wadi El Hasa, pair of F. peregrinus attacking Buteo rufinus, 23 April; Wadi Rum, 
pair noted as F. peregrinus but in classic niche of F. pelegrinoides, regularly hunting and taking 
food to cliff ledge, 28 April to 9 May 1963. 

Pterocles senegallus Spotted Sandgrouse 

Jordan: heard, 22 km. south of Uneiza, 27 April 1963. 

Pterocles orientalis Black-bellied Sandgrouse 

Jordan: 14 km. north of Ma'an, two, 30 April 1963. Almost certainly late staying winter 
visitors (cf. Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Pterocles alchata Pin-tailed Sandgrouse 

Jordan: 10 km. north of Ma'an, 1 May 1963. With records of last two species, only 
observations of Pterocles made away from Azraq (Wallace, 1984). Not listed for Jordan by 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Streptopelia turtur Turtle Dove 

Jordan: River Jordan, Hussein Bridge, f jur, one singing, 21 April, "common" in eucalyptus, 
1 1 May; Wadi Zarqa, up to 12, 12 and 21 April, including two singing, 1 1 May 1963. Not listed as 
breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). 



36 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Cuculus canorus Cuckoo 

Jordan: highlands at Wadi Wala, Jebel Sarab and Barra Forest, singing males or bubbling 
female, 21 to 25 April. Found by Hollom (1959) at Wadi Dana in 1955. 

Caprimulgus nubicus Nubian Nightjar 

Jordan: Wadi Musa, 28 April, Gibeiha, 12 May 1963. Harrison (1982) includes a montane 
element in the habitat of this nightjar. Meinertzhagen (1954) considered the race tamaricus to be 
from Jordan. 

Caprimulgus aegyptius Egyptian Nightjar 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, 4 May 1963. 

Otus brucei Striated Scops Owl 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, shot bird examined in hand, 28 April 1963. This owl assumed to be the 
only Otus occurring in Jordan and all records originally assigned to it; revisions of identifications 
made after full review of current criteria. Otus distribution in region clearly merits fuller study, 
since general statements on it very confusing with (a) only O. scops listed for Lebanon (Vere 
Benson 1970, Macfarlane 1983) and four localities there and in Jordan in 1955 (Hollom 1959), 
(b) O. brucei unrecorded in Syria since 1919 (Macfarlane 1983), (c) species pair subject to disputed 
systematics (c.f. Meinertzhagen 1954 with Vaurie 1965) and (d) both mapped in similar ranges 
south to Petra (Harrison 1981). Meinertzhagen (1954) restricted O. brucei to "arid regions" and 
it should be noted that the Jordan records (as above, Wallace 1982) were made in true desert or 
degraded steppe. 

Apuspallidus Pallid Swift 

Lebanon: Beirut airport, 30, 1 May 1963, Baalbek, five, 17 April 1966, probably all migrants, 
there being no proof of breeding in Lebanon (A. M. Macfarlane, in litt.). Jordan: highlands, and 
Rift, c. 1,300 birds at 16 localities, from Na'ur south to Petra, 21 April to 11 May 1963. The most 
numerous swift in west Jordan but not listed as breeding by Meinertzhagen (1954). 



Apus melba Alpine Swift 

Jordan: highlands and Rift, c.120 birds at 12 localities, from Gibeiha south to Petra, 21 April 
to 12 May 1963, with 100 obvious over Madaba on first date. Not listed as breeding in Jordan by 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Apus affinis Little Swift 

Jordan: near Na'ur, 21, Karak and down Wadi El Karak, at least 21, 22 April 1963. As with 
last two species and A. apus, separation of breeding swifts not attempted during limited observation 
but marked concentrations at Na'ur, around and below Karak and at Petra may have been of 
former. Hollom (1959) saw the three large species in 1955 but did not note/4, affinis, clearly scarce 
or local in Jordan (see also Wallace 1982). Not listed as breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen 
(1954). 

Merops superciliosus Blue-cheeked Bee-eater 

Jordan: near Manta, 22, Ghor Es Safi, five flying north, 23 April 1963. Almost certainly 
migrants. 

Melanocorypha bimaculata Bimaculated Lark , 

Syria: near Sheik Mishin, among M. calandra, 18 April 1966. Jordan: Wadi Sultan, one, 10 
km. south of Amman, seven, 30 April 1963. Probably all late migrants, the breeding grounds in 
the Anti Lebanon lying at c. 1,700 metres a.s.l. (A. M. Macfarlane, in litt.). 



37 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Hirundo rustica Swallow 

Jordan: Irbid, "small numbers" of apparently breeding birds, 10 May 1963. Not listed as 
breeding in Jordan by Meinertzhagen (1954). Unless the region's breeding population arrives late, 
the broad mapping of this species in the Levant, Sinai and Saudi Arabia (Harrison 1981) is totally 
unjustified. 

Anthus campestris Tawny Pipit 

Jordan: highlands, Nijil, at least one cock in song and two other birds, 25 and 27 April and 
1 May, Quweira, 1 May. Nijil identifications initiated by P. A. D. Hollom who had noted several 
in southern highlands in 1955. 

Oenanthe oenanthe Wheatear 
Jordan: Nijil, cock in song, 27 April 1963. 

Turdus merula Blackbird 
Jordan: 8 km. north of Jerash, 18 April 1966. 

Cettia cetti Cetti's Warbler 

Jordan: head of Wadi El Karak, two cocks in song, 22 April 1963. 

Sylvia leucomelaena Arabian Warbler 

Sylvia hortensis Orphean Warbler 

Lebanon: Anti-Lebanon, near Syrian border, cock S. hortensis in song, 18 April 1966. 
Jordan: highland, seven birds, including one pair and one settled cock at five localities, from Wadi 
Zarqa south to Petra, all certainly or probably 5. hortensis, 13 to 30 April; Rift, near Safi, three 
noticeably bright and contrasting cocks in acacia bushes.assumed to be S. hortensis but more likely 
to have been S. leucomelaena, 23 April 1963. Last locality close to the Arava Valley in Israel, a 
known breeding place of S. leucomelaena. S. hortensis not listed as breeding in Jordan by 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Petronia brachydactyla Pale Rock Sparrow 

Syria: about 65 km. south of Damascus, two, 18 April 1966, apparently the first for that 
country. Jordan: highlands, Laijun, c.30, 24, above Barra Forest, two, 29 April 1963. Probably all 
migrants. 

Emberiza striolata House Bunting 

Jordan: near Safi, four, 23 April 1963. Breeding implied for the Dead Sea Depression by 
Meinertzhagen (1954). 

Migrant or vagrant species 

65 species are listed here. Two are also listed under breeding species. 

Egretta intermedia Intermediate Egret 

Jordan: near Safi, one apparently adult, 23 April 1963. See Appendix I. 

Ciconia nigra Black Stork 

Jordan: near Qalat El Hasa, two, 26 April 1963. 

Ciconia ciconia White Stork 

Lebanon and Syria: Bekaa and Anti-Lebanon, at least 390 flying north, 18 April 1966. 
Jordan: between Amman and River Jordan, at least 240 grounded or flying east, 21 April; 
highlands, only 35, 22 April to 11 May 1963. 



38 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



A ccipiter gentilis Goshawk 

Jordan: Wadi Zarqa, female, 21, near Tafila, female, 25 April 1963. With another at Azraq 
on 18 April (Wallace 1982), a striking spring trio of a rare visitor to the region. 

Accipiter nisus Sparrow hawk 

A ccipiter brevipes Levant Sparrow hawk 

Jordan: highlands, 11 A. nisus and seven A brevipes, from Wadi Zarqa south to Ma'an and 
at Wadi Rum, 12 April to 2 May 1963. 

Accipitriformes Large Raptors 

Lebanon and Syria: highlands, between Beirut and Baalbek and from Beirut to Damascus and 
south to Jordan border, one Milvus milvus, one Pernis apivorus and nine Buteo buteo, 17 and 18 
April 1966. Jordan: Rift scarp, highlands and southern desert, from Jerash south to Ras Ed Naqb 
and east to El Jafr, 86 M. milvus, seven P. apivorus, 15 Aquila (including A. nipalensis and A. 
pomarina), two Hieraaetus pennatus and 251 Buteo (including B. buteo and B. rufinus) on 23 days, 
12 April to 1 1 May 1963. Only pronounced passage was of c.200 B. buteo over Ras Ed Naqb on 6 
May. 

Circus aeruginosus Marsh Harrier 

Lebanon: Aleih, 18 April 1966. 

Circus cyaneus Hen Harrier 

Jordan: 12 km. north of Amman, 18 April 1966. 

Circus macrourus Pallid Harrier 

Syria: near Sheik Mishin, north of Ramtha, 18 April 1966. Jordan: Rift near Safi, 23 April 
1963. 

Circus pygargus Montagu's Harrier 

Jordan: Rift, near Safi, two, 23 April, Aqaba, over sea, 5 May; near El Jafr, 6 May 1963. 

Falco tinnunculus Kestrel 

Jordan: highlands and Rift, from Amman to Karak, c.50, 21, from Wadi El Karak down to 
Ghor Es Safi, c.150 (including flock of 39 and many moving north), 23, from Karak to Shaubak, 
"widespread in parties of up to 6", 24 April 1963. Together with records at Azraq from 13 April, 
the most pronounced spring passage noted in the region (cf. Christensen et al. 1981). F. naummani 
seen on all three days and more than marginal confusion between the two species ruled out. 

Falco vespertinus Red -footed Falcon 

Lebanon: Beirut airport, 1 May 1963, unusual, in that the locality is close to the coast, and 
there were no spring observations in the country from 1974 to 1977 (A. M. Macfarlane in litt.). 

Coturnix coturnix Quail 

Lebanon: Bekaa, six offered for sale, 17 April 1966. Jordan: Ghor Es Safi, four, 23 April 
1963. 

Crex crex Corncrake 

Lebanon: Bekaa, one, 17 April 1966. Jordan: near Wadi Rum; one captive, 5 May 1963. 

Charadriiformes Waders 

Jordan: highlands, reservoir in Wadi Sultan, one Charadrius hiaticula, up to seven C. 
alexandrinus, up to four Actitis hypoleucos, up to 12 Calidris temminckii, up to three 
Philomachus pugnax and up to three Glareola pratincola, 24 and 30, near Qalat El Hasa, one 
Tringa ochropus, 28 April 1963. 



39 



Sand grouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Larus fuscus Lesser Black -backed Gull 

Jordan: Aqaba, up to 40, all but one adults, 27 April and 5 May 1963. 

Larus leucophthalmus White-eyed Gull 

Jordan: Aqaba, sub-adult, 27 April 1963. 

Sterna hirundo Common Tern 

Jordan: Jerusalem airport, two flying north, 1 May 1963. 

Clamator glandarius Great Spotted Cuckoo 

Jordan: Wadi Zarqa and near Rabba, 21 April 1963. 

Alcedoatthis Kingfisher 

Jordan: River Jordan, Hussein Bridge, 21, Aqaba, seashore, 27 April 1963. 



Merops apiaster Bee-eater 

Jordan: highlands, c.290 birds at 15 localities, from Jerash south the Ma'an, 12 April to 11 
May; Rift, Ghor Es Safi, c.200 moving north, 23 April; southern deserts, Aqaba, c.100 moving 
north over sea, 5, Wadi Rum, heard, 6, El Jafr, heard, 6 May 1963. As at Azraq, most confident 
of migrants crossing all terrains. 



Coracias garrulus Roller 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: from Beirut and Anti Lebanon south to Aqaba, 23 scattered at 
18 localities, 18 April to 12 May 1963 and 1966. Meinertzhagen (1954) gave "the Judaean 
highlands" as the southern limit of breeding distributions. 



Jynx torquilla Wryneck 

Jordan: highlands, Jerash, one, 12, Wadi El Karak, two, 22, Wadi El Hasa, one, 29; Rift, 
near Safi, one, 23 April 1963. 

Ptyonoprogne rupestris Crag Martin 

Jordan: highlands, c.120 at 11 localities from Wadi Shu'eib south to Wadi Musa, most 
moving between west and north, 21 April to 1 May; Rift between Wadi El Karak and Safi, 11, 23; 
Wadi Rum, two, 7 May 1963. One, associating with P. fuligula, entered cave at Rashadiya on 25 
April (cf. Meinertzhagen 1954). 

Delichon urbica House Martin 

Lebanon: Beirut airport, 15,1 May 1963. Jordan: highlands, c.100 over seven localities, from 
near Jerash south to Ras Ed Naqb, 12 April to 10 May, with notable passage of c.80 at last named 
place on 9 May; Rift, Ghor Es Safi, at least 75, 23 April; Wadi Rum, one, 2 May 1963. Relatively 
commoner in these regions than at Azraq (Wallace 1982). 

Anthus trivialis Tree Pipit 

Jordan: highlands, 30 at eight localities, from Jerash south to Wadi Dana, 12 to 28, Rift, near 
Safi, three, 23 April; Wadi Rum, 2 and 4 May; Aqaba, two, 5 May 1963. 

Anthus pratensis Meadow Pipit 

Jordan: near Nijil, two, 25 April 1963. Apparently the first record for Jordan. 



40 



Sand grouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Anthus cervinus Red-throated Pipit 

Jordan: Petra, 26, near Shaubak, 29 April 1963. Astonishingly scarce, given large passage 
through Azraq (Wallace 1982). 

Anthus spinoletta Water Pipit 

Jordan: near Shaubak, 24 April 1963. 

Motacilla flava Yellow Wagtail 

Lebanon and Jordan: from close observations and in-hand examinations, 206 male migants 
noted between 12 April and 10 May 1963, 1965 (in this case) and 1966 were racially identified. The 
attributions broken down: 



flava cinereo- lutea thunbergi feldegg flava/feldegg Totals 

capilla or 

dombrowskii 

Lebanon - coast 0 0 0 0 20 5 25 

16, 17 April 1966 

Jordan -Azraq 22 0 2 13 48 76 161 

14 April to 12 May 
1963, 1965 and 1966 

Jordan - highlands 3 1 0 9 0 7 20 

12 April to 7 May 

1963 and 1966 

25 1 2 22 68 88 206 



Luscinia luscinia Thrush Nightingale 

Luscinia megarhynchos Nightingale 

Jordan: highlands, from Amman south to Petra, of 13, 10 were L. luscinia and three L. 
megarhynchos, 23 to 29 April; Wadi Rum, fall of 13 L. luscinia, 2 May 1963. 

Highland stations of L. luscinia notably elevated, to over 1,300 metres, unlike those of L. 
megarhynchos which did not exceed 500 metres. 

Luscinia svecica Bluethroat 
Jordan: Aqaba, 5 May 1963. 

Phoenicurus phoenicurus Redstart 

Jordan: highlands, Rift and southern desert, 167 birds at 21 localities, from Jerash south to 
Aqaba, 12 April to 1 1 May 1963 and 1966. Although widespread as a migrant in west Jordan, its 
passage there - with no localised fall featuring more than nine birds - undoubtedly less obvious 
than at Azraq and in the surrounding eastern desert (see Wallace 1982). 

Saxicola rubetra Whinchat 

Jordan: Jerash, six, 12, Wadi Zarqa, two, 13, near Safi, 23 April 1963. As P. phoenicurus, 
relatively scarce. 

Saxicola torquata Stonechat 

Jordan: Er Rumman, Wadi Zarqa, single birds, 12 April 1963. Together with two others at 
Azraq (see Wallace 1982), the tail end of winter visitors. 

Locus tella fluviatilis River Warbler 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, 2 May 1963. 



41 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Acrocephalus melanopogon 

Jordan: near El Jafr, 6 May 1963. 



Moustached Warbler 



Hippolais languida Upcher's Warbler 

Jordan: Karak, 24, Wadi Rum, 28 April 1963. 



Hippolais olivetorum Olive-tree Warbler 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, 28 April, Hussein Bridge, 1 1 May 1963. 



Sylvia nisoria 



Barred Warbler 



Jordan: Wadi El karak, four, 22, near Safi, 23, near Shaubak, 27 April, Wadi Rum, two, 2, 
Aqaba, two, 5 May 1963. 



Jordan: highlands, 406 birds at 32 localities, 12 April to 11 May 1963 and 1966; Rift, c.210 at 
3 localities, 21 and 23, April 1963; southern desert, 45 at 4 localities, 1 to 9 May 1963. Marked 
concentration of c.200 between the bottom of Wadi El Karak and Safi on 23 April exceptional, 
exceeding even the most obvious falls at Azraq (see Wallace 1982). Second commonest night 
migrant in west Jordan, being outnumbered by Sylvia atricapilla. 

Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap 

Lebanon and Jordan: highlands, 380 birds at 19 localities, 12 April to 11 May 1963 and 1966; 
Rift, 243 at 4 localities, 21 and 23 April 1963. Southern desert, c.110 at 5 localities, 28 April to 8 
May 1963. Marked concentration of c.200 south of the Dead Sea on 23 April matched that of 5. 
curruca. Commonest night migrant in west Jordan. 

Phylloscopus spp. Leaf Warblers 

Jordan: highlands, of 42 birds, 23 were P. collybita Chiffchaff, 16 P. trochilus Willow 
Warbler, and three P. sibilatrix Wood Warbler, 12 April to 9 May 1963 and 1966; Rift, 10 P. 
collybita around Safi, 23 April; southern desert, of 1 1, eight P. trochilus, two P. sibilatrix and one 
P. collybita, 28 April to 6 May 1963. Notably scarcer in west Jordan than at and around Azraq 
(see Wallace 1982). 

Ficedula semitorquata Semi-collared Flycatcher 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, 28 April 1963. 

Lanius isabellinus Isabelline Shrike 

Jordan: Wadi Rum, 28 April 1963. 

Lanius collurio Red-backed Shrike 

Jordan: highlands and Rift, near Amman, Wadi Zarqa and Hussein Bridge, 10 and 11 May; 
southern desert, Wadi Rum, 28 April, at El Jafr, at least two, 6 May 1963. 

Lanius minor Lesser Grey Shrike 

Jordan: Wadi Zarqa, 13 April 1963. The total of only eight migrants of this species and the 
last two in west Jordan over 27 spring days in 1963 may appear low but it is more likely that their 
main passage had not yet begun. 

Sturnus vulgaris Starling 

Jordan: Sehab, 20, Dhiban, near Wadi Nijib, 21 April 1963. Another tail-end to a winter 
presence. 



Sylvia curruca 



Lesser Whitethroat 



42 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Emberiza hortulana Ortolan Bunting 

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan: highlands, 316 birds at 24 localities, 13 April to 11 May, 
including marked concentration of c. 100 at Nijil, 25; Rift around Safi, 21, 23; southern desert, c.40 
birds at 5 localities, 28 April to 7 May, 1963 and 1966. After Sylvia atricapilla and S. curruca, 
third commonest passerine migrant, as at Azraq (see Wallace 1982). 

Emberiza cineracea Cinereous Bunting 

Wadi Zarqa, nominate race, 12 April 1963. 



DISCUSSION OF LEBANESE AND SYRIAN OBSERVATIONS 

With only five days' observations, mainly made during long distance journeys, no considered 
comment is possible on the birds seen in Lebanon and Syria. In the highlands of those countries, 
their density appeared markedly lower than in upland Jordan. This was most obvious on the slopes 
and summit of the Lebanon mountain range, where even the generally expected Black-eared 
Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica was restricted to the head of one west facing wadi. The only general 
exception to this state was evident in the Anti Lebanon hill range, in the valleys and plateau of the 
border area on the main Beirut-Damascus road. 22 species were seen there and A. M. Macfarlane 
(in lilt.) has confirmed that a marked diversity of species was still present in 1974-1977. 

Among the Lebanese observations, those of Black Vulture Aegypius monachus, Saker Falco 
cherrug and Red-footed Falcon F. vespertinus are individually the most significant. Among the 
Syrian, those of the Desert Wheatear Oenanthe desert i and the Pale Rock Sparrow Petronia 
brachydactyla are also important. It is, however, certain that the former breeds in the basalt flow 
south-east of Damascus (A. M. Macfarlane, in litt.). Thus the attachment of a first record claim 
to the 1966 birds is specious. The status of the sparrow remains a considerable puzzle. Vere Benson 
(1970) noted it as breeding in the Anti Lebanon range and passing through the Lebanon range in 
autumn but A. M. Macfarlane (in litt.) never saw it once in Lebanon and Syria in 1974-1977. That 
it is a remarkably fickle nomad is indicated by the contrast of its common occurrence around Azraq, 
Jordan, in the springs of the 1965 and 1966 (Wallace 1982) and its total absence at Shaumari in 
1975-1977 (Clarke 1980). 

DISCUSSION OF JORDANIAN OBSERVATIONS 

Although the observations summarised in this paper include the most extensive made in west 
Jordan, they still fall short of a full survey of that region. For various reasons, exploration of the 
Jordan Valley north of the Hussein Bridge, the northern two-thirds of the eastern shore of the 
Dead Sea, the Wadi Araba and the south-eastern desert was not possible. These gaps were 
unfortunate, the more so since Jordan's birds are frequently subject to what may be termed 
'liberal mapping' and their true limits remain far from fully determined. Thus An Atlas of the 
Birds of the Western Palaearctic (Harrison 1981) appears to inflate the western component of the 
Jordan's breeding avifauna by at least 39 species, while older field guide maps add dubiously 
another three. This is not ornithology in any conservative sense. Some of the birds may be there 
but there is no proof of breeding (in any records known to me from the mid 1950s) of many 
supposedly wide-ranging species such as Black Kite Milvus migrans, Collared Dove Steptopelia 
decaocto, any large owl Strigidae, Tawny Pipit An thus campestris and Desert Finch Rhodopechys 
obsoleta. This situation must be borne in mind by future Middle East ornithologists or the 
confusions will persist (cf. Macfarlane 1983). 

As stated in the introduction, and shown by the separation of the systematic lists, no broad 
assumptions about the 1960s observations - stemming from their superficial relationship to earlier 



43 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



statement on distribution and status - have been made. The more important discoveries have been 
noted within the specific texts. Of these, the persistences of the Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus, the 
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus and the Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos among the central 
highlands are (with hindsight) the most striking and the range extensions of the Blue Rock Thrush 
Monticola solitarius and the Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus the most unexpected. The rest do little 
more than fill in gaps in knowledge. How secure the distributions noted here will have proved to be 
is unknown. As well described by Mountfort (1965), the militaristic rape of Jordan's forests 
combined with generations of subsistence husbandry in their steppic surround has taken a severe 
toll of the basic ecosystems of the highlands. A start had been made upon reafforestation by the 
period of our visits but the marked concentrations of upland birds within the few well-watered or 
wooded areas told of a dangerously relict set of communities. In our highland observations, only 
23 breeding species (4 non-passerine and 19 passerine) were at all common, with their observed 
numbers over 30 days exceeding 100; and in all our explorations of west Jordan, 29 potentially 
breeding species were represented by no more than five individuals. In an attempt to allow future 
monitoring, notes have been supplied to the OSME Sites Register Scheme for the following areas 
that showed high avian diversities in the mid 1960s: Wadi Zarqa (northern highlands), Wadi El 
Karak (central highlands), Ghor Es Safi (southern Rift), above Wadi Dana (south-central 
highlands) and Wadi Rum (southern desert). It is hoped that visitors to Jordan will try to include 
these places on their routes and provide occasional monitoring of them. 

Given the tattered state of the habitats of the Levant, any overview of bird distribution is 
risky but there can be no doubt that the interfaces between what may be loosely called 
Mediterranean and Arabian species are unusually well displayed in west Jordan. To the former, 
the highlands allow southward extensions but these begin to break up at about 32° 10'N, to 
collapse noticeably at about 31 °N and cease at 30° 20'N. To the latter, the Rift is clearly the most 
important vector but their northward penetrations of upper wadi sections and adjacent uplands 
clearly weakened between about 30° 50' and 31° 20'N. North of the second latitude, only the 
Blackstart Cercomela melanura and the Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea were obvious. 

Of essentially steppe and desert species, the west and south Jordan observations of the mid 
1960s told disappointingly little. The only sector that echoed the relative richness of the Azraq 
passerine avifauna (Wallace 1983) was the eastern skirt of the highlands from Amman south to 
Ma'an. Through its steppic habitats, at least six larks and five wheatears were found. At Wadi 
Rum, only three larks and three wheatears were present; and at El Jafr (in spite of recently rain fed 
waters), only two larks and perhaps three other passerines gave any sign of breeding behaviour. It 
was difficult to resist the conclusion that the flat sandy desert was as empty as it looked. Very 
much the converse was found in the supposedly dreary badlands south of the Dead Sea. There 
irrigated cultivation was having its usual magnetic effect on birds and a separate summary of the 
remarkable observations made on 73 species on 23 April 1963 appears in Appendix II. 

In general, bird migration in west and south Jordan was far less diverse (and less obvious) 
than at Azraq (Wallace 1982). Patently habitat restriction put paid to the chances of most wetland 
species but even so, the total of no more than 90 others was less than might have been expected. 
Only one large fall of birds was experienced and most migrant sightings were of widely scattered 
groups and individuals and of no discernible pattern. Visible passage was almost exclusively 
directed to the north or north-west, along and away from west-facing scarps. Flights of soaring 
birds were not pronounced in the highlands, with 30 day totals of 37 storks and 361 large raptors 
extremely sparse compared to latter day Israeli observations. 

Two of the absences mentioned above deserve fuller comment. The first is that of the 
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto. Although mapped as occurring widely in the Middle East by 
Meinertzhagen (1954) and Harrison (1981), it was not seen in Jordan in 1955 (Hollom 1959), 1963, 
1965 and 1966. It remains unrecorded in Lebanon (Vere Benson 1970; Macfarlane 1983) and is 
known only from the Euphrates Valley in northern Syria (A. M. Macfarlane, in litt.). The second 
problematic presence is that of the Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris. Hollom (1959) noted several in 



44 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



the southern highlands of Jordan in the spring of 1955. In the same hills and season in 1963, 
however, few definite identifications were made and all the upland pipits that were breeding were 
Long-billed A. similis. The Tawny is undoubtedly a montane bird in many parts of its range and 
Vere Benson (1970) stated that it bred in both the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges. 
Nevertheless, it would be unwise to list it as breeding in the Jordan highlands. 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 

Spring observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, made in 1963 and 1966, are presented 
under three broad headings: breeding birds, birds of uncertain status, and migrants. Of 172 bird 
species seen in the three countries, 165 are mentioned in the hope that future reviewers of bird 
distribution in the Middle East will have more hard facts (and less vague maps) to work on. 
Attention is drawn to five areas in west and south Jordan where monitoring of diverse populations 
can be made. No general conclusions are drawn but comment is made on the opposing distribution 
of Mediterranean and Arabian species in west Jordan, the apparent paucity of the avian 
community in the flat southern Jordan deserts and the relatively inconspicuous nature of bird 
migration in the Jordan highlands. 

Together with the earlier papers on the migrant and breeding birds of Azraq (Wallace 1982, 
1983), this paper establishes a full reference to the birds of Jordan in the mid 1960s. In that period, 
over 275 species occurred in Jordan and at least 115 bred or attempted to do so. The breeding 
community is of considerable interest. It features (or featured) at least nine major and minor 
populations with partially unique or differently balanced specific profiles. These are: 

1. the concentrated, diverse 'aquatic' population of the Azraq drainage basin (Nelson 1973, 
Wallace 1984). 

2. the widespread, diverse 'lower steppic' population of the northern limestone plain which 
extends south along the eastern skirt of the central highlands (Nelson 1973, Clarke 1980, 
Wallace 1984 and above). 

3. the widespread (but little explored) sparse 'upper desertic' population of the basalt shield 
which extends north into eastern Syria (Wallace 1984, Macfarlane 1983). 

4. the relict, diverse 'wooded upland' population of the extreme northern highlands, with a 
markedly Mediterranean avifauna (Hollom 1959 and above). 

5. the longitudinally spread, fairly diverse 'upper steppic and little wooded upland' population 
of the central highlands, with a marked southward extension of some Mediterranean species 
(Hollom 1959 and above). 

6. the altitudinally spread, fairly diverse 'lower desertic and cliff and wadi' population of the 
central Rift (around the Dead Sea), with a northward extension of west Arabian species 
(Hollom 1959 and above). 

7. the locally isolated, fairly diverse 'sandstone jebel' population within the southern silt and 
sand plains (above). 

8. the virtually unexplored but apparently sparse 'desertic' population of the south-eastern silt 
plains (above). 

9. the single, isolated and pauce 'lower desertic and chalk cliff population of the upper Wadi 
Sirhan (Fhaidat Edh Dhakikiya), with its potential vector to central Arabian species 
(Wallace 1983). 

Among the above, 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 are clearly closely related and only 1 is without some 
parallels elsewhere. It is possible that the populations of three other areas - the north-eastern 
'brown soil' region beyond the basalt shield and bordering Iraq, the northern Rift along the West 



45 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



Bank and in the Jordan Valley and the southern Rift in the Wadi Araba - also contain distinctive 
profiles or other breeding species. To date, no clear picture of them has emerged. Thus, Jordan 
presents many more opportunities for research into the profiles and interfaces of arid land bird 
populations than are first apparent from its borders or basic geography. Within the profiles, 
the most obvious indicators are in the family Alaudidae and the genus Oenanthe, with Jordan 
providing breeding niches for nine larks and eight wheatears. 

The most obvious gap in Jordan's ornithology is the lack of any extensive survey of the 
country's wintering birds. As usual, there is a marked Azraq bias (Nelson 1973; Clarke 1980; 
Conder 1981; Wallace 1982) in the literature and no balanced commentary is possible. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

To those already made in my two earlier papers, I must add particular thanks to Dr. J. 
Morton Boyd, Sana Atallah and Dr. and Mrs. R. E. Lewis of the American University in Beirut 
for their support in 1966 and to Dr. J. E. Clarke and Lt. Col. A. M. Macfarlane for commenting 
expertly on my draft. 

Appendix I 

Egretta intermedia Intermediate Egret: near Safi, 23 April 1963. 

Flushed by G. R. Shannon, observed in close flight (c.10 metres, up to c.17 metres high) by I. 
J. Ferguson-Lees and D. I. M. Wallace. Size: close to E. alba but neck shorter and apparently 
thicker and bill shorter and stubbier. Plumage: white except for deep yellowish-buff patch between 
shoulders and pale tone of same colour on hindneck. Bill: yellow; legs: black. Neck kept extended 
in initially half-circling and later short escape flight. Identified in the field by D. I. M. Wallace, 
with previous experience of species in Kenya. Puzzling colour of hindneck and mantle found on 
skins at British Museum of Natural History, being on a few marked between shoulders as on Safi 
individual. 

Although everywhere within its range given to local movement, E. intermedia truly migratory 
only in the far East Palearctic (Vaurie 1965). At. 31 °N, 35°4'E, Safi individual either the first 
African bird to appear north of its normal limit of 19°N in the Sudan or, less likely, the first Asian 
one to stray west. Although associated with the most marked concentration of migrants seen in 
west Jordan (see Appendix II), the bird remains the single most amazing bird seen in that country 
in the mid-1960s. 

Appendix II 

Birds at the southern end of the Dead Sea: 23 April 1963. 

With hindsight, the visit to the southern end of the Dead Sea produced the most remarkable 
of all migrant observations made in west Jordan. The entire expedition left Karak just after 0500 
hours, descended the Wadi El Karak and approached the Dead Sea opposite the promontory that 
extends into its southern third. It then turned south, travelling between the south-eastern shore of 
the sea and the eastern scarp of the Rift and then west, reaching the Ghor Es Safi, in particular the 
much irrigated and intensively cultivated area around the settlement of Safi. To the south lay the 
Wadi Araba proper but a bad track soon turned us back from there. From c. 0800 to 1500 hours, 
the observers broke up into two or three parties and searched first the mixed acacia, tamarisk and 
crop habitat at Safi and later the more natural scrub and bush habitats between there and the 
mouth of the Wadi El Karak. Within these sectors, six foot searches were made and these lasted 
about 30 minutes on average. All other observations were made from vehicles briefly stopped if 
birds showed. 

In the sea level areas and the lowest adjacent wadis and scarp, c.2,235 birds of at least 73 
species were found. They made up the greatest concentration of birds seen in Jordan away from 
the Azraq oasis and qa. About 1,800 birds of at least 49 species were clearly migrants; of these, 



46 



Sandgrouse 6 



Observations from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan 



1,070 of 20 species were in the air over the ghor and a further 285 of 18 species (four additional) 
were edging along the eastern scarp. Schedule I shows their profile in more detail. The balance of 
345 migrants of at least 24 species were grounded in the denser cover, particularly where this was 
irrigated. 

Within the same areas that held the migrants, c.435 birds of at least 26 species were resident, 
breeding or possibly breeding. Among these were a pair of Cursorius cursor (of different 
appearance to those of Azraq), two Corvus rhipidurus, five Turdoides squamiceps, three large 
Sylvia warblers (taken in the hurry of the day to be S. hortensis but patently in the habitat of 5. 
leucomelaena), 31 Onychognathus tristramii, four Emberiza striolata and 20 Passer moabiticus. 
The southern end of the Dead Sea, the Ghor Es Safi and the Wadi Araba clearly beg for fuller 
ornithological exploration, like that recently given to the nearby Arava valley of Israel. 

Schedule I 



Birds in flight over (a) Ghor Es Safi and (b) eastern scarp of Rift 23 April 1963. 





a 


b 


Total 


Ciconia ciconia 


5 




5 


Acciptriformes (11 spp.) 


30 + 


9 


39 + 


Falconiformes (3 spp.) 


114 + 


39 + 


153 + 


Apodidae (3 spp.) 


c.315 


c.120 


c.435 


Meropidae (2 spp.) 


c.155 


c.50 


c.205 


Hirundinidae (5 spp.) 


c.555 


c.205 


c.760 



All observed tracks orientated north; overall passage rate c.460 birds/hour. 



REFERENCES 

CLARKE, J. E. 1980. The Avifauna of Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Jordan. Sandgrouse, 1:50-70. 
CONDER, P. 1981. Birds of the Azraq Wetland Reserve, Jordan: January and February 1979. 
Sandgrouse, 2:22-32. 

CRAMP, S. & SIMMONS, K. E. L. 1977, 1980 and 1982. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, 
Vol. MIL Oxford. 

HARRISON, C. 1981 . An Atlas of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. London. 

HOLLOM, P. A. D. 1959. Notes from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Antioch. Ibis 101:183-200. 

MACFARLANE, A. M. 1978. Field Notes on the birds of Lebanon & Syria 1974-77. Army Bird- 
Watching Society, Periodic Publication No. 3. 

MACFARLANE, A. M. 1983. Letter discussing bird occurrence and distribution in Lebanon and 
Syria. Bulletin of the Ornithological Soceity of the Middle East No. 11. Sandy. 

MEINERTZHAGEN, R. 1954. The Birds of Arabia. Edinburgh. 

MOUNTFORT, G. 1965. Portrait of a Desert. London. 

NELSON, J. B. 1973. Azraq: Desert Oasis. London. 

VAURIE, C. E. 1959. The Birds of the Palearctic Eauna: Passeriformes. London. 
VAURIE, C. E. 1965. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna: Non-Passeriformes. London. 
VERE BENSON, S. 1970. Birds of Lebanon and the Jordan Area. London. 

WALLACE, D. I. M. 1982. Observations on Migrant Birds at Azraq in North-east Jordan, up to 

April 1967. Sandgrouse, 4:77-99. 
WALLACE, D. I. M. 1983. The Breeding Birds of the Azraq Oasis and its Desert Surround, 

Jordan, in the mid-1960s. Sandgrouse, 5:1-18. 
CHRISTENSEN, S., LOU, O., MULLER, M., and WOHLMUTH, H. 1981. The Spring 

Migration of Raptors in Southern Israel and Sinai. Sandgrouse, 3:1-42. 

D. I. M. Wallace, 68 Selby Road, Holme on Spalding Moor by York Y04 4EU, ENGLAND. 



47 



THE AVIFAUNA OF THE AL JAWF REGION, NORTHWEST SAUDI ARABIA 

by 

Arthur A. Green 



INTRODUCTION 

The avifauna of northern Saudi Arabia has been little studied, and no comprehensive account 
of the birds of the area has yet been published. Philby (1923) saw tracks of Arabian Ostrich 
Struthio camelus syriacus near Nabk abu Qasr in Wadi as Sirhan, and he saw captive birds in Al 
Jawf (anciently known as Doumat al Djandal). But during the next quarter century this subspecies 
became extinct. An indication of the species one might expect to find in the Al Jawf region can be 
found by reference to birds known from surrounding areas: Tabuk, Saudi Arabia (Stagg & 
Walker, 1982), Kuwait (Bundy & Warr, 1980), central Arabia (Jennings, 1980, 1981), and Jordan 
(Clark, 1980; Conder, 1981; Wallace, 1982, 1983). The most helpful reference for identification 
and occurrence for this region is Cramp and Simmons (1977, 1980, 1982). 

This paper is based on field observations made from February 1983 to January 1984 while 
working on a project sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations 
(FAO) in northern Saudi Arabia involving a reconnaissance of large mammals and endangered 
large birds and while looking for a site for the. creation of a wildlife reserve. The base of operations 
was at Sakakah (30°N, 40°10'E), capital of Al Jawf Province. The study area of over 80,000 km 2 
covered Al Jawf, Qurrayat, and the Northern Frontier Provinces. Figure 1, a map of the region, 
shows principal roads, towns and geographical regions. Observations were generally made while 
travelling cross-country by Toyota landcruiser. Weekend visits to a farm began in April and to a 
lake in May with the purpose of looking for migrant bird species less often encountered in the open 
desert. 

The Al Jawf region enjoys four seasons. Spring and autumn are very short. Winter is from 
mid-November to March. During December, January and February night temperatures often fall 
below freezing. At this time of year the prevailing winds are from the northwest bringing moist air 
from the Mediterranean. Dew gathers at night and is thought to be as important to the vegetation 
as the meagre rainfall. Summer begins in early May and lasts to September. Daytime 
temperatures reach 40°C. Prevailing winds are dry, from the southeast. Rain can be expected in 
winter or spring. The average annual rainfall generally increases from west to east, with 40 mm. in 
Tabarjal, 60 mm. at Sakakah, and 70 mm. in Al Widyan. Al Harrah receives more rainfall than 
other western areas (60 mm.), perhaps due to its higher elevation. 

The large mammal fauna has decreased greatly in quantity during this century. Where Philby 
(1923) saw hundreds of gazelles daily in 1922, the desert in the Al Jawf region today is empty. The 
northern population of the Arabian Oryx Oryx leucoryx became extinct about the time of the 
Second World War. The last four Cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus to be seen in the Arabian peninsula 
were killed by ARAMCO workers near Turayf in 1950 (Harrison 1968). Neither Mountain 
Gazelle Gazella gazella (Idhmi in Arabic) nor Dorcas Gazelle Gazella dorcas can be found in the 
region any more. A small population of Goitred Gazelle Gazella subgutterosa lives in eastern Al 
Harrah, and the odd one may still exist in Al Widyan. A few Ibex Capra ibex live in the At Tawil 
massif, but they are gone from the jebels of Al Harrah. The Bedu claim that there are a few 
Wolves Canis lupus in Al Harrah and Al Labbah. I have seen Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena at 
Jebel al Amud in Al Harrah and along the northern edge of the An Nafud south of Sakakah, and I 
saw a Jackal Canis aureus in this same region. But the only abundant large mammals today are the 
unbiquitous Hares Lepus capensis and Foxes Vulpes vulpes. 



48 



Sandgrouse 6 



A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabiu 




49 



Sanclgrouse 6 



A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabia 



BIRD HABITATS 

I have recognized six habitats supporting distinctive bird communities as follows: 

An Nafud (No. 1 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 13) 

The An Nafud (68,000 km 2 ) is mostly an undulating sand sheet with longitudinal dunes 
elongated parallel to the prevailing wind direction (easterly and south-easterly elongation) having a 
good vegetative cover of perennial bushes and grasses, augmented during the rains by annuals. 
Sand mountains rising 50 to 300 metres in the east of the An Nafud lie outside the study area. But 
in the north-west of An Nafud between the At Tawil massif and Al Khunfra is a region known as 
Al 'Urayq dominated by urug dunes, long parallel sharp crested sand ridges separated by broad 
sand valleys and deep pits. The pits and hollows are stabilized by Haloxylon persicum saltbushes 
and other small shrubs and perennial grasses. The moving crests of the dunes are without 
vegetation. Typical resident birds of An Nafud include larks, wheatears and the Great Grey 
Shrike. *Many raptors and passerines stop here on migration. 

At Tawil (No. 2 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 14) 

The At Tawil massif covers about 1,200 km 2 on the northwest edge of An xNafud. The massif 
and the plain to the north and west are composed of Tawil sandstone. There are remnant sand 
dunes on the northeastern edge of that plain, and windblown sand is found on the western 
mountains and in the valleys of the eastern part of the massif. Most vegetation is found on these 
sandy areas. The Kestrel, the Rock Dove, the Pale Crag Martin, larks and wheatears are typical 
residents. The Brown-necked Raven is breeding on Jebel Raf and certainly elsewhere in the massif. 

Al Harrah (No. 3 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 15) 

The region of basalt stony plains, volcanic ash/gravelly plains and old volcanoes in the 
northwest of the study area is known as Al Harrah. This region covers about 15,000 km 2 in Saudi 
Arabia. (The harrat, Arabic name for volcanic regions in general, extends across the border into 
Jordan, then northward into Syria, covering some 45,000 km 2 altogether.) Although much of the 
region seems barren at first glance, the silty and sandy soils of the wadis are very productive. Some 
of the larger wadi systems retain water in pools for a month following heavy rains on the 
watershed. Typical resident birds include the Desert Lark, the Crested Lark, the Temminck's 
Horned Lark, the White-crowned Black Wheatear, the Sand Partridge and the Trumpeter Finch. 
Some common migrants and visitors include the Pallid Harrier, the Long-legged Buzzard, the 
Golden Eagle and several species of wheatear. Rock Doves, Sand Partridges, the Chukar and the 
Houbara are all breeding (see discussion). Rare visitors included a male and female Hen Harrier 
on 3 October, a Stone Curlew on 16 April, a Short-eared Owl on 30 October, and an Alpine Swift 
on 17 April. 

Limestone Desert (No. 4 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 16) 

This category is used rather broadly to cover all the open desert areas not covered above, most 
of which have limestone bedrock. Al Hamad, lying east of Al Harrah, is a high limestone plateau 
extending northward into Iraq. The gravelly plains are broken by shallow silty-sandy wadis which 
should carry a rich vegetative cover, but which are severely overgrazed (see discussion). East of Al 
Hamad is Al Widyan, another limestone desert, resembling Al Hamad in the west. Farther east it 
becomes broken badlands of limestone rock, gulches and buttes - desolate country except for the 
vegetation in the larger wadis. Al Labbah is a smaller division lying between Al Widyan and An 
Nafud, where there are numerous large silty wadis with better vegetation. South of Al Harrah and 
Al Hamad is an area of limestone gravelly and stony hills and valleys known as Al Ghara'is. 
Separating An Nafud from the other regions to the north is a 5 to 14 km. wide regolith plain of 
calcareous duricrust. (Al Jubah, the Sakakah sandstone basin with its oases and farms and 
villages, lies in the centre of these other regions.) 

During much of the year migrant or visiting species make up the majority of the birds seen in 
this limestone desert. The Houbara is breeding on Al Hamad in the spring. The Barbary Falcon is 

*See Appendix for scientific names of birds mentioned in the text. Ed. 



50 



Sandgrouse 6 



A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabia 



an uncommon resident. And an Egyptian Vulture was seen at a flooded silt pan on Al Hamad 
about 60 km. northwest of Sakakah on 16 May. 

Farms & Villages (No. 5 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 17) 

There are many farms in Al Jubah because of the easier access to water with drilled wells near 
the oases of Sakakah, Qarah and Al Jawf, and because of the good soils. Farms are also found in 
Wadi as Sirhan ner Tabarjal and Qarrayat and in the northwest of the study area at Turayf. The 
many towns, villages and camps also provide refuge for certain birds which do not care for the 
other habitats. 

The FAO project had an experimental farm 10 km. west of Sakakah at Kunaitre. This farm 
was frequently visited from February to May, but a larger, isolated farm 25 km. east of Sakakah 
(Abdullah's farm) was found to be more interesting. Observations were made at Abdullah's farm 
at weekends beginning in April. From October (planting) until June (harvest) wheat was one of the 
major crops here. Alfalfa was grown throughout the year to feed a flock of sheep. In summer 
other crops were grown, such as melons and garden vegetables. The farm was crossed in a "T" by 
two Tamarix hedgerows acting as windbreaks. 

The birds of interest at farms were the spring and autumn migrants. Some rare visitors included 
a Woodcock on 10 October, two Robins on 10 November and one on 5 January, a Mistle 
Thrush on 14 December, a male and female Masked Shrike on 29 April, a flock of eight or 10 
Siskin on 10 November, and a male Ortolan Bunting on 29 April. A pair of Peregrines soared over 
the farm on 14 December. At Kunaitre a Male Semi-collared Flycatcher was recorded on 6 May. 

Lake and Marsh (No. 6 on map, Figure 1 and Plate 18) 

About 40 km. west of Sakakah by road is the town of Al Jawf, on high ground on the western 
edge of a great depression. This depression lies in a north-south orientation and is several 
kilometres long and about three wide. Passing from west to east, one would descend from Al Jawf 
through date palm groves and gardens and eventually reach a marsh, then a lake. East of the lake 
the land slopes upward (sandy and barren) to the foot of an escarpment. The lake is at its largest 
size in winter and spring, and then it measures up to a kilometre wide and three long. From July to 
September most of the lake is dry salt flats, excepting for pools along the western side where 
springs continue to supply fresh water in excess of evaporation. With cooler temperatures in 
October, the lake begins to expand. The marsh west of the lake contains sedges, reeds and grasses 
in wet areas and Tamarix spp. bushes in less frequently flooded areas. 

Eighty species of water birds have been recorded here. Most of them are migrants or winter 
visitors. The records include a White Pelican during 9-16 December and four there on 3 January, 
a pair of White Storks on 14 October, a swan (believed to be a Mute Swan - see discussion) during 
3-13 January, ten Red-crested Pochard during the same period as the swan, a male White-headed 
Duck (first record for Saudi Arabia - see discussion) during 27 October to 4 November, a Pied 
Kingfisher during the same period as the duck, and a flock of about eight Penduline Tits during 9 - 
16 December. 

DISCUSSION 

The Appendix lists 163 species of birds recorded in the Al Jawf region of Saudi Arabia during 
the period February 1983 to January 1984. Observations for February and March are inadequate 
because extensive field trips had not yet begun. Serious bird observations at farms and in the desert 
began in April, and it was early May before the first trip to the lake at Al Jawf. This is very 
unfortunate as a wealth of data on the spring migration was missed. Reading the list of birds in the 
Appendix, it must be kept in mind that for most aquatic birds the data covers only the period from 
early May to mid-January. During this period twenty-four visits were made to the lake and marsh 
at Al Jawf. (A few waders were seen in Al Harrah in April.) 



51 



Sandgrouse 6 



A vifauna of Al Jawf, Saudi A rabia 



There are many gaps in the information about status, abundance and distribution for the 
species of larks and warblers more difficult to identify because time was not available to stop and 
determine species. 

A discussion of some of the species listed in the Appendix is warranted before going on to 
problems of hunting, overgrazing, agricultural development and conservation education. 

Comments on bird species 

Four Black-necked Grebes were found on a small, deep fresh-water pond at Al Jawf on 16 
December. This pond is separated by about 250 metres from the main lake. The birds were still 
present on 3 January when five were seen but all had left by 1 1 January. A Great White Egret with 
a broken left leg was recorded at the lake on 27 October (perhaps shot by hunters). Larger size and 
colour of bill and legs separated this bird from the Little Egret seen earlier in the autumn. 

A swan was observed at the lake during 3-13 January. It remained far out from the shoreline 
with the other Anatidae to avoid being shot at. With x9 binoculars it was not possible to determine 
bill colour or form; however, the bow of the neck and down-pointing bill were in the characteristic 
pose of the Mute Swan Cygnus olor. Because of some lingering doubt, it has been listed in the 
Appendix as Cygnus sp. 

From early November until early December a dozen Wigeon were observed at the lake at Al 
Jawf. Then there were about 100 there from 9 December until 3 January. They then declined to 
about a dozen by mid-month. Gadwall appeared once (20 birds) on 3 January. Teal were 
uncommon, from a dozen on 16 December to about 70 or 80 in January. The Garganey, an autumn 
migrant, was the commonest duck at the lake. Seven birds were present on 19 August; numbers 
increased to about 45 in October, 100 in early November, and well over 200 later in the month. 
Numbers rapidly declined in December (24 on 2 December), and the duck disappeared after 9 
December. 

Ten Red-crested Pochard were recorded at the lake at Al Jawf during all visits in January. 
The red bills of males were clearly visible separating this species from the Pochard, another winter 
visitor to the lake. One male Pochard was seen on 3 January, a few on 1 1 January, and at least 
three dozen on 13 January. A few Tufted Ducks were winter visitors to the lake at Al Jawf. A pair 
was studied closely on the small pond south of the lake, and several others were on the lake itself 
on 16 December. There were 12 or 15 there in early January. 

A new record for Saudi Arabia is the White-headed Duck seen on the small pond south of the 
lake at Al Jawf on 27 October and 4 November. In addition to the large amount of white on the 
head, the swollen bill, the large head and the stiff tail were all easily visible at distances of 50 to 80 
metres from the automobile. 

Both Steppe Buzzard and Long-legged Buzzard were observed in the region. The Steppe 
Buzzard was first identified on 29 March at Abdullah's farm. In the autumn the passage was 
recorded from 2 to 22 October. Long-legged Buzzards were much more common and present for a 
longer period of time (5 May to 6 June and 30 July to 21 November). (No desert observations were 
made from mid-June to late July, and one wonders if this buzzard may not be present throughout 
the summer. During 30 July to 10 August there were many sightings in Al Harrah.) 

Golden Eagles were observed occasionally throughout the area and throughout the year, 
juveniles more commonly than adults. 

Realising that confusion is possible between Saker Falco cherrug and Lanner Falco biarmicus, 
the large falcons observed in Al Harrah in April and early May have been listed in the Appendix as 
Falco sp. A pair was first recorded at Jebel al Amud on 5 April. On 17 April from the heights of 
that jebel a male, a female and a juvenile were closely observed; another pair was closely observed 
the next day from the top of another jebel 60 km. to the west. Later observations in April and early 
May were not made so closely nor so carefully, but are believed to be of the same species. Of the 
observations of 17 and 18 April, the adults had very pale crowns and heads and no noticeable 
moustachial stripes, characteristic of the Saker. Stagg and Walker (1982) have listed the Saker as a 



52 



Sandgrouse 6 



A vifauna of AlJawf, Saudi A rabia 



passage migrant at Tabuk (March to May and October). In recent years Saudis have been going to 
Al Harrah to try to trap Sakers, which they prefer to Peregrines for their sport of falconry. (On 5, 
6 and 7 June large falcons were observed at long distance in Al Harrah. Their identities remain in 
doubt.) 

Large flocks (30 to 40 birds) of Chukars watering at springs in the gorge of Sha'ib al 'Usayd in 
the Al Misma range of central Al Harrah in the summer contained many young of the year. Sand 
Partridges were observed on the slopes of Jebel Metkamin (hen with 14 chicks) and on another jebel 
(hen with seven flying chicks) in the Ar Raha region of Al Harrah on 18 April. Houbara were 
mostly seen in Al Harrah and on Al Hamad from mid-April until mid-November. A few were also 
seen in Wadi as Sirhan, in An Nafud, and one in the spring at Abdullah's farm. Hens with small 
chicks were seen in eastern Al Harrah and on Al Hamad during the first half of May. No Houbara 
were recorded in the winter, perhaps due to the short time spent in the desert at this season, or 
perhaps due to a local movement. Clarke (1982) has suggested that in eastern Jordan there is an 
autumn exodus and a return from the east in the spring. 

The Coot is a winter visitor in great numbers to the lake at Al Jawf. A few first appeared there 
in mid-October. In early December numbers had increased to 300 or 350. By 3 January there were 
well over 1,000, with many hundreds remaining in mid-January. 

Ringed Plovers were uncommon at the lake at Al Jawf in May and again from 14 October to 2 
December. Kentish Plovers were common during May and early June. Summer records are 
lacking, but a few birds were present on 27 July. Status varied during the autumn between 
common and abundant. On 3 January there were an estimated 1,000 or more at the lake, but by 
mid-January they had nearly all disappeared (four counted on 13 January). Curlew Sandpipers 
were only recorded on two occasions: a few on 22 May and a few again on 25 August. The Green 
Sandpiper was missed in the spring, but was the commonest large sandpiper in the autumn 
migration. It was a winter visitor as well. A small flock was first seen at the lake on 27 July. 
Numbers fluctuated during the autumn from uncommon to common until it became abundant in 
January with nearly 1,000 at the lake on 3 January. Suddenly they nearly all disappeared, leaving 
only a couple of dozen on 13 January. 

Problems with larks have been mentioned above. Dunn's Lark was seen frequently during 
mid-May and early June and was noted again in late October in Al Harrah. Bar-tailed Desert 
Larks were seen at Kunaitre (farm) and in Al Harrah from April to November. The Thick-billed 
Lark was first identified in early June in Al Harrah. Flocks were seen in the desert west of Sakakah 
in late July and a few flocks were seen again in Al Harrah from 27 July to 10 August. Flocks were 
seen at Abdullah's farm on 22 October, 9 December and 5 January. Although Short-toed Larks 
Calandrella brachydactyla were probably present, and may have been more common than Lesser 
Short-toed Larks, only the latter species was identified (March and November). 

The Swallow is a common spring and autumn migrant, and there are a few summer (July) and 
winter (January) records. The Red-rumped Swallow was observed twice: a pair in central Al 
Harrah on 18 April and two pairs at Abdullah's farm on 28 September. The House Martin was 
uncommon at the farms from 24 February to 4 April and was not seen in the autumn. 

Two forms of Yellow Wagtail were observed. The blue-headed form was common in April 
and early May but was not seen in the autumn. The black-headed form was seen in December; a 
mixed flock of both forms was at Kunaitre on 5 January. The Grey Wagtail was not recorded in 
the spring but was common from 19 August to 21 October. 

The Black-eared Wheatear is a frequent migrant in April, and it was recorded twice in Al 
Harrah on 23 August. An unusually late white-throated male was seen at close range for several 
minutes in the desert 10 km. east of Sakakah on 18 December. The Desert Wheatear is resident. 
First seen in An Nafud on 19 February, it was seen frequently in Al Harrah and An Nafud until 7 
June and again frequently after 30 July until 8 August. Finsch's Wheatear was first seen (three 
sightings) in Wadi Tirba in eastern Al Harrah on 20 and 21 November. It was seen commonly east 



53 



Sandgrouse 6 



A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabia 



of the lake at Al Jawf in December and January, and one occurred at Abdullah's farm on 14 
December. 

A male Blackbird was recorded at Abdullah's farm on 10-November; two males and a female 
appeared there during a period of cold weather on 9 December. A few days later on 14 December 
Mistle Thrush was seen at the farm when a Song Thrush was also present. 

Six to eight Moustached Warblers were present in a reed-filled drainage ditch on the 
northwest side of the lake and marsh at Al Jawf. They were observed first on 4 November, but 
undoubtedly were there before this. They were there throughout the visits until the last one on 13 
January. Although the Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris was not recorded, it may have been 
present and not separated from the similar Reed Warbler. 



Hunting pressures 

The Saudis love to hunt, and this has been a major factor in the decline of the larger 
mammals. There does not yet exist legislation for the conservation of the fauna or for control of 
hunting. In Al Jauf Province the Emir (Governor) has made some edicts concerning the season for 
hunting, but so far there appears to be little control. One place where hunting was evident was at 
the lake and marsh at Al Jawf. Although hunting mostly for ducks, when frustrated by the 
Anatidae remaining out of gunshot range, hunters would shoot at Coots, waders, etc. 

Overgrazing and harmful developments 

Overgrazing has become a problem in the Al Jawf region, and is especially noticeable on Al 
Hamad. This is partly to be blamed on the arrival of the motor vehicle to the desert. In times past 
the Bedu were restricted in the season that they could venture far from water, and the time that 
they could spend there. Now, rather than paying a brief visit to an area, a herdsman can bring his 
camels or sheep and remain until the saltbushes and other plants have been eaten down to the 
ground. Tank trucks can bring water from 200 km. away permitting the herds to remain even at 
the hottest part of the summer. 

Intensive agricultural development is occurring in the Al Jubah basin, in Wadi as Sirhan, and 
elsewhere in the region. This is generally benefiting those species of migrant birds which enjoy 
moisture and foliage. It must be noted, however, that this irrigated farming is dependent upon 
fossil water from deep in the earth (200 to 300 metres in many cases) which is not being recharged. 
The water table is already falling, and planned new farms can only increase the rate of depletion. It 
is conceivable that within 15 to 25 years the water will have been used up. The benefits to the 
migrants may, therefore, prove to have been very temporary. 

Around the lake and marsh at Al Jawf, the situation is equally ominous. Drainage, filling and 
channelling of water are already disturbing the site. If uncontrolled agricultural development 
continues, the habitat will soon be lost, and the aquatic birds will have to go elsewhere. 
Conservation awareness outside of the Emir's Office in Sakakah is virtually non-existent. As far as 
is known, there has been no provision for protection of this unique habitat in the region. 

Endangered species 

Two birds that greatly interest all Saudis in the study area are the Saker and the Houbara. The 
Saker is endangered for one reason due to the capture of birds for the sport of falconry. There may 
be other reasons as well. The Houbara is endangered from over-hunting during the past half 
century, both by the gun and by falconry. A campaign for the conservation of these two species 
might serve as a starting point for a programme of conservation education in the schools and the 
communities. Conservation education takes a long time, but forms the bedrock for programmes 
which will be doomed to failure without the understanding and support of the local people. 



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A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabia 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

These observations were made while I was working on an FAO wildlife management project 
in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am grateful to the FAO for permission to publish this material. 
I am indebted to J. Gasperetti, M. C. Jennings and A. Stagg for their helpful criticisms and 
suggestions. 

SUMMARY 

During one year from February 1983 through to January 1984, 163 species of birds were 
recorded in the Al Jawf region of north-western Saudi Arabia. About 20 of these were clearly year- 
round residents, while the others were passage migrants or winter visitors. About 80 species of 
aquatic birds were recorded at the lake and marsh at Al Jawf. Another 28 species were recorded 
exclusively in irrigated farmland or villages. Some of these could undoubtedly be found in the desert 
wadis with diligent searching, especially during the spring migration when desert vegetation is 
more luxuriant. A large falcon, believed to be the Saker, was recorded in Al Harrah in April and 
early May. The Houbara is nesting in Al Harrah and on Al Hamad in the springtime. The White- 
headed Duck seen at the lake at Al Jawf in the autumn gives a new record for Saudi Arabia, and a 
swan seen there during December and January was believed to be a Mute Swan. If verified, this 
would also be a new record for Saudi Arabia. Ten Red-crested Pochards were also at the lake in 
early and mid-January 1984. 

APPENDIX 

Birds observed in the Al Jawf region, northwest Saudi Arabia, from February 1983 to January 
1984. 

Status R = resident, M = spring/autumn migrant, 

B = breeding, W = winter visitor, V = vagrant. 

Abundance 1 = rare(l to 3 sightings), 2 = uncommon, 
3 = common, 4 = abundant. 

Habitat A = An Nafud, B = At Tawil, C = Al Harrah, 
D = limestone desert, E = farm/village, F = lake/marsh. 







Status 


Abundance 


Month (1-12) 


A 


Habitat 
B C D E 


F 


Black-necked Grebe 


Podiceps nigricollis 


W 




12.1 






X 


White Pelican 


Pelecanus onocrotalus 


W 


1 


12,1 






X 


Squacco Heron 


Ardeola ralloides 


M 


2 


5,9 






X 


Little Egret 


Egretta garzetta 


M 


2 


8-10 




X 


X 


Great White Egret 


Egret ta alba 


M 


1 


10 






X 


Grey Heron 


Ardea cinerea 


M 


1 


5 






X 


Purple Heron 


A rdea purpurea 


M 


1 


8-9 






X 


White Stork 


Ciconia ciconia 


M 


1 


10 






X 


Glossy Ibis 


Plegadis falcinellus 


M 


1 


5,8,11 






X 


Swan 


Cygnus sp. 


V 


1 


12,1 






X 


Shelduck 


Tadorna tardorna 


W,M 


2 


4,11-12,1 




X 


X 


Wigeon 


Anas penelope 


W 


3 


11-12,1 






X 


Gadwall 


Anas strepera 


W 


2 


12,1 






X 



55 



Sandgrouse 6 



Teal 


Anas crecca 


W 


Mallard 


Anas platyrhynchos 


W 


Pintail 


Anas acuta 


W 


Garganey 


Anas querquedula 


M 


Shoveler 


Anas clypeata 


M,W 


Red-crested Pochard 


Netta rufina 


W 


Pochard 


Aythya ferina 


w 


Tufted Duck 


Aythya fuligula 


w 


White-headed Duck 


Oxyura leucocephala 


V 


Black Kite 


Milvus migrans 


W,M 


Egyptian Vulture 


Neophron percnopterus 


V 


Short-toed Eagle 


Circaetus gallicus 


M 


Marsh Harrier 


Circus aeruginosus 


M 


Hen Harrier 


Circus cyaneus 


M 


Pallid Harrier 


Circus macrourus 


M 


Montagu's Harrier 


Circus pygargus 


M 


Sparrowhawk 


Accipiter nisus 


M 


Steppe Buzzard 


Buteo buteo vulpinus 


M 


Long-legged Buzzard 


Buteo rufinus 


M 


Steppe Eagle 


Aquila nipalensis 


M 


Golden Eagle 


A qui la chrysaetos 


W,V 


Kestrel 


Falco tinnunculus 


R,M 


Falcon 


Falco sp. 


M 


Peregrine 


Falco peregrinus 


W 


Barbary Falcon 


Falco pelegrinoides 


R 


Chukar 


A lector is chukar 


R,B 


Sand Partridge 


Ammoperdix heyi 


R,B 


Quail 


Coturnix coturnix 


M 


Spotted Crake 


Porzana porzana 


M 


Little Crake 


Porzana parva 


M 


Moorhen 


Gallinula cholorpus 


W 


Coot 


Fulica atra 


W 


Houbara 


Chlamydotis undulata 


M,B 


Black-winged Stilt 


Himantopus himantopus 


M 


Avocet 


Recurvirostra avosetta 


M 


Stone Curlew 


Burhinus oedicnemus 


M 


Cream-coloured Courser 


Cursorius cursor 


R,B 


Collared Pratincole 


Glareola pratincola 


M 


Little Ringed Plover 


Charadrius dubius 


M 


Ringed Plover 


Charadrius hiaticula 


M 


Kentish Plover 


Charadrius aiexandrinus 


M,W 


Sociable Plover 


Chettusia gregaria 


M 


Lapwing 


Vanellus vanellus 


W,M 


Little Stint 


Calidris minuta 


M,W 


Temminck's Stint 


Calidris temminckii 


M 


Curlew Sandpiper 


Calidris ferruginea 


M 


Ruff 


Philomachus pugnax 


M 


Jack Snipe 


Lymnocryptes minimus 


W 


Common Snipe 


Gallinago gallinago 


M,W 


Woodcock 


Scolopax rusticola 


V 


Redshank 


Tringa totanus 


M,W 


Marsh Sandpiper 


Tringa stagnatilis 


M 


Greenshank 


Tringa nebularia 


M,W 


Green Sandpiper 


Tringa ochropus 


M,W 


Wood Sandpiper 


Tringa glareola 


M 


Terek Sandpiper 


Xenus cinereus 


W 


Common Sandpiper 


Act it is hypoleucos 


M,W 


Black-headed Gull 


Larus ridibundus 


W 


Herring Gull 


Larus argentatus 


v,w 


Gull-billed Tern 


Gelochelidon nilotica 


M 


White-winged Black Tern 


Childonias leucopterus 


M 


Coronetted Sandgrouse 


Pterocles coronatus 


R 


Spotted Sandgrouse 


Pterocles senegallus 


R 



Avifauna o/AUawf, Saudi Arabia 







A 


B 


c 


D 


E 


2/3 


12,1. 












1 


12 












2 


10-12,1 












4, 


8-12 












2 


11-17,1 












2 


12,1 












2 


12,1 












2 


12,1 












1 


10-11 












2 


2-3 




X . 




X 


X 


1 


5 








X 




2 


3-4,5,8-9 




X 


X 


X 




2 


3-4,10,12 










X 


1 


10 






X 






3 


3-5,9-11 


X 


X 


X 


X 


X 


1 


8-9 






X 




X 


2 


10-12 








X 


X 


2/3 


3,10 


X 




X 


X 


X 


3 


5-6,7-11 


X 


X 


X 


X 




1 


9,10-11 






X 






2 


2-4,6,7-11,1 






X 


X 




2/3 


1-12 




X 


X 


X 


X 


2 


4-5 




X 








1 


12 










X 


1 


4 








X 




2 


1-12 




X 


X 




X 


3 


1-12 




X 


X 


X 


X 


1 


9 










X 


1 


4 






X 






1 


8-9,11 










X 


1 


11-12,1 












4 


10-12,1 












2 


4-11 


X 




X 


X 


X 


2 


5-6,7-11 












1 


11-12 












1 


4 






X 






3 


1-12 




X 


X 


X 


X 


1 


3-4 










X 


3 


5,10-11 












2 


5,10-11 












3 


5-6,7-12,1 












2 


2-5,8-9 


X 


X 


X 


X 


X 


3 


4,11-12,1 










X 


4 


5,8-11,1 












4 


4-5,7-12 






X 






2 


5,8 












3 


8-10 












2 


11-12,1 












3 


8-12,1 












1 


11 










X 


3 


8,10-12,1 












2/3 


8,11 












2 


4,10-11,12,1 






X 






4 


7-12,1 












3 


4-5,8,11 












1 


12,1 












3 


4-5,8,10-11,1 








X 


X 


2 


11-12,1 








X 




1/2 


9-12,1 












1 


5,10 












2 


5,8-9,11-12 












2 


5-6,8 










X 


2 


6,7 






X 







F 



56 



Sandg rouse 6 



Pin-tailed Sandgrouse 


Pterocles alchata 


R 


Rock Dove 


Oolumba livid 


R,B 


Turtle Dove 


Streptopelia turtur 


M 


Eagle Owl 


Bubo bubo 


R 


Little Owl 


A thene noctua 


R 


Short-eared Owl 


AsiO fldlTWlCUS 


M 


Nightjar 


Caprimulgus europaeus 


M 


Swift 


Apus opus 


M/V 


Alpine Swift 


A pus tne/ba 


M 


Pied Kingfisher 


Ceryle rudis 


v 


Blue-cheeked Bee-ester 


frferops superciliosus 


M 


Bee-ester 


Aferops apiaster 


M 


Roller 


Coracias garrulus 


M 


Hoopoe 


Upupa epops 


M 


Dunn's Lark 


Eremalauda dunni 


R 


Bar-tailed Desert Lark 


Ammomanes cincturus 


R 


Desert Lark 


Ammomanes deserti 


R,B 


Hoopoe Lark 


Alaemon alaudipes 


R,B 


Thick-billed Lark 


Rhamphocorys clotbey 


R 


Lesser Short-toed Lark 


Calandreila rufescens 


M 


Crested Lark 


Galerida cristata 


R,B 


Temminck's Horned Lark 


Eremophila bilopha 


R 


Sand N4artin 


Piparia riparia 


M 


Pale Crag Martin 


Ptyonoprogne fuligula 


R 


Crag Martin 


Ptyonoprogne rupestris 


M/V 


Swallow 


Mirundo rustica 


M,V 


Red-rumped Swallow 


Mirundo daurica 


M 


House Martin 


Delichon urbica 


M 


Tawny Pipit 


Anthus cam pestris 


M 


Tree Pipit 


An thus trivialis 


M 


Red-throated Pipit 


Anthus cervinus 


M,W 


Water Pipit 


Anthus spinoletta 


M,W 


Yellow Wagtail 


Moiacilla flava 


M,W 


Blue-headed form 


M.f. flava 


M,W 


Black-headed form 


hi f fplHpQQ 


W 


Grey Wagtail 


Motacilla cinerea 


M 


White Wagtail 


Motacilla alba 


W 


Rufous Bush Chat 


Cercotrichas galactotes 


M 




Erithacus rubecula 


V 


Bluethroat 


Euscinia svecica 


M,W 


White-throated Robin 


Irania gutturalis 


M 


Black Redstart 


Phoenicurus ochruros 


M 


Redstart 


Phoenicurus phoenicurus 


M 


Whinchat 


Saxicola rubetra 


M 


Stonechat 


Saxicola torquata 


M,W 


Isabelline Wheatear 


Oenanthe isabellina 


M,W 


Wheatear 


Oenanthe oenanthe 


M 


Pied Wheatear 


Oenanthe pleschanka 


M 


Black-eared Wheatear 


Oenanthe hispanica 


M,V 


Desert Wheatear 


Oenanthe desert i 


R 


Finsch's Wheatear 


Oena n the finsch ii 


W 


Mourning Wheatear 


Oenanthe lugens 


M,W 


White-crowned Black Wheatear 


Oenanthe leucopyga 


R,B 


Rock Thrush 


Monticola saxatilis 


M 


Blue Rock Thrush 


Afonticola solitarius 


M 


Blackbird 


Turdus merula 


W 


Song Thrush 


Turdus philomelos 


M 


Mistle Thrush 


Turdus viscivorus 


V 


Scrub Warbler 


Scotocerca inquieta 


R 


Moustached Warbler 


Acrocephalus melanopogon 


W 


Reed Warbler 


Acrocephalus scirpaceus 


M 


Great Reed Warbler 


Acrocephalus arundinaceus 


M 


Olivaceous Warbler 


Hippolais pallida 


M 



A vifauna of A/Jawf, Saudi Arabia 







A 


B 


Q 


1) 




p 


2 


2-3 














3/4 


1-12 














2/3 


4-5,9, 10 














j 


7 g 














2 


9, 1 1 , 1 








X 






1 


10-11 














] 


9 














2 


4-5 7 














j 


4 














j 


10-11 














3 


9-10 














2 


4-5 10-11 














1 


8-9 














3 


3-5,8-1 1 














2 


5-6,10 














2 


4-1 1 














3 


1-12 














3 


1-12 














2 


1-12 














2 


3, 1 1 














3 


1-12 














3 


1-12 














3 


4-6 8-1 1 














2/3 


1-12 














2 


3-5 6 8 10 














3 


2-5,7-1 1 , 1 














j 


4,9 














2 


2-4 














1 


10-11 










X 




1 


8,10 










X 




3 


4-5,9-12,1 














4 


10-12,1 














3 


3-5, 1 














] 


12, 1 














3 


8-10,1 1 












* 


3 


2-4,10-12,1 














2/1 


4-5 8 














1 


11,1 














3 


4,1 1,1 














1/2 


4,8-9 














2 


10-11 














2 


4-5 10-11 














2 


4,9-1 1 












* 


3 


10-12,1 














3 


8-12,1 














3 


3-6,7-1 1 














2 


4 6, 1 1 














2 


3-4,8,12 












- 


2 


1-12 














2 


1 1-12,1 










x 




2 


8-12,1 














3 


1-12 














1 


8,9,1 1 














j 


1 j 














1 


1 1 12 














1 


4,1 1 










* 




1 


12 














2 


4-7,10-1 1 














2 


11-12 1 














1 


11 












X 


1 


10 












X 


2 


8 










X 





57 



Sandgrouse 6 



Upcher's Warbler 


Hippolais languida 


Icterine Warbler 


Hippolais icterina 


Menetries' Warbler 


Sylvia mystacea 


Desert Warbler 


Sylvia nana 


Lesser Whitethroai 


Sylvia curruca 


Whitethroat 


Sylvia communis 


Wood Warbler 


Phylloscopus sibilatrix 


Chiffchaff 


Phylloscopus collybita 


Willow Warbler 


Phylloscopus trochilus 


Spotted Flycatcher 


Muscicapa striata 


Red-breasted Flycatcher 


Ficedula parva 


Semi-collared Flycatcher 


Ficedula semitorquata 


Penduline Tit 


Remiz pendulinus 


Golden Oriole 


Oriolus oriolus 


Red-backed Shrike 


Lanius collurio 


Lesser Grey Shrike 


Lanius minor 


Great Grey Shrike 


Lanius excubitor 


Woodchat Shrike 


Lanius senator 


Masked Shrike 


Lanius nubicus 


Brown-necked Raven 


Corvus ruficollis 


House Sparrow 


Passer domesticus 


Spanish Sparrow 


Passer hispaniolensis 


Siskin 


Cardielis spinus 


Desert Finch 


Rhodospiza obsoleta 


Trumpeter Finch 


Bucanetes githagineus 


Ortolan Bunting 


Emberiza hortulana 



A vifauna of A I Jawf, Saudi A rabia 









A 


B C 


D 


E 


F 


M 


2 


4-5,10 






X 


X 




M 


2 


8-9 




X 




X 




M 


1 


11 








X 




W 


2, 


11,1 


X 


X 








M 


2 


10 








X 




M 


1 


10 








X 




M 


2 


4,10-1 1 






X 




X 


M 


4 


4-5,10-12 




X 


X 


X 


X 


M 


2 


4.9-10 








X 




M 


3 


4-5,9-11 




X 


X 


X 




M 


1 


11 








X 


X 


M 


1 


5 








X 




V 


1 


12 










X 


M 


2 


4-5,9 


X 




X 


X 




M 


3 


4-5,8-9,10-11 




X 


X 


X 


X 


M 


1 


8 




X 




X 


X 


R 


2 


3-4,6,8-1 1 


X 


X X 


X 






M 


2 


4-5 




X 




X 




M 


1 


4-5 








X 




R,B 


3 


1-12 


X 


X X 


X 


X 


X 


R,B 


4 


1-12 








X 


X 


W 


2 


1 








X 




V 


1 


11 








X 




R 


2 


3-9,11,1 


X 


X 




X 




R 


2/3 


1-12 




X 


X 






M 


1 


4-5 








X 





REFERENCES 

BUNDY, G. & WARR, E. 1980. A Check list of the Birds of the Arabian Gulf States. Sandgrouse 
1:4-49. 

CLARKE, J. E. 1980. The Avifauna of Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Jordan. Sandgrouse 1: 41, 
44-45, 50-70. 

CLARKE, J. E. 1982. The Houbara Bustard in Jordan. Sandgrouse 4: 1 1 1-1 13. 
CONDER, P. 1981. Birds of the Azraq Wetland Reserve, Jordan: January and February 1979. 
Sandgrouse 2: 22-32. 

CRAMP, S & SIMMONS, K. E. L. 1977, 1980 and 1982. The Birds of the Western Palaearctic, 

Vols. I, II and III. Oxford. 
HARRISON, D. L. 1968. The Mammals of Arabia, Vol. II. London. 
JENNINGS, M. C. 1980. Breeding Birds in Central Arabia. Sandgrouse 1: 71-81. 
JENNINGS, M. C. 1981. The birds of Saudi Arabia: a check list. M. C. Jennings, Cambridge. 
MOORE, A. 1983. A field guide to the warblers of Britain and Europe. Oxford. 
PHILBY, H. ST. J. 1923. Jawf and the North Arabian Desert. Geograhphical J. 62: 241-259. 
STAGG, A. & WALKER, F. 1982. A check list of the birds of Tabuk, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Stagg & Walker, privately prepared pamphlet. 
WALLACE, D. I. M. 1982. Observations on Migrant Birds at Azraq and North-east Jordan, up to 

April 1967. Sandgrouse A: 77-79. 
WALLACE, D. I. M. 1983. The Breeding Birds of the Azraq Oasis and its Desert Surround, 

Jordan, in the mid- 1960' s. Sandgrouse 5: 1-18. 



Arthur A. Green Jr., Route 1, Box 778, Hiawasse, Georgia, 30546 U.S.A. 



58 



THE BLUE AND WHITE FLYCATCHER : FIRST RECORDS FROM ARABIA 

by 

M. D. Gallagher, C. M. Saunders, S. A. Webb and P. R. Colston 

INTRODUCTION 

The Blue and White Flycatcher Muscicapa cyanomelana, an eastern Palaearctic species, was 
seen and photographed singly on two occasions in eastern Arabia recently: in the United Arab 
Emirates (UAE), Arabian Gulf, in November 1980, and on Masirah Island, Arabian Sea, in 
January 1982. These appear to be the first records from Arabia. Although the species is common 
in captivity in eastern and south-eastern Asia, it is not easy to keep, and it has not been reported in 
captivity in the UAE or Oman. Neither bird had the worn appearance of an escaped captive, and 
both appeared to be natural vagrants. PRC determined the birds' identity from the photographs. 

The Blue and White Flycatcher breeds in north-eastern Asia from Amurland and the Kuriles, 
southwards to Manchuria and Hopeh, and eastwards to Korea and the islands of Japan, in two 
subspecies; it migrates southwards to winter in Taiwan, Hainan, countries of the Indo-Chinese 
and Malaysian peninsulas, Indonesia and the Philippines (Dement'ev et al. 1954; Vaurie 1959; 
King et al. 1975; Massey et al. 1982). The two Arabian birds were thus some 40 degrees of 
longitude west of their most westerly known range. 

The first bird was seen and photographed by CMS on 17 November 1980 at approximately 
25°45'N. 56°00'E, in the grounds of the earth satellite station in Ra's al-Khaimah, United Arab 
Emirates, where it stayed for two weeks and allowed approach as close as five metres. The size and 
shape resembled a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (present nearby), but it was a little larger, 
the bill slightly heavier and the tail longer. 

Description 

Upper-parts: head, nape and upper-back uniform medium dark brown (appearing paler in the 
photograph); the rump and tail between sky and steel blue, the tail tipped black with white sides of 
the base of the tail visible in flight from behind; the wings mostly the same shade of blue, but 
mottled with brown towards the shoulders, the primaries tipped black. Under-parts: a distinct pale 
patch on the throat; the breast mottled medium brown and white, appearing pale in good light and 
in the photo, but darker on the sides and flanks; belly and under tail-coverts white; under-side of 
the tail dark brown or black. Bare-parts: the bill and legs appeared very dark, except in strong 
sunlight when they appeared dark brown; the iris was dark. The colour photograph clearly shows 
the brownish head, upper-back and sides of the breast, the bright blue wings and tail, with dark 
tips to the latter, the white throat-patch, belly and under tail-coverts, and part of an indistinct 
buffish eye-ring behind the eye, the dark iris, and the dark brown bill and toes. It was probably an 
immature male. 

The second bird was seen and photographed by SAW during his visits to a walled garden near 
the airfield on Masirah Island, Sultanate of Oman, 20°40'N. 50°53'E., from 3 to 6 January 1982. 
It was also seen by C. M. Greaves in the same place on 6 January (with SAW), and until 8 January; 
it was not found subsequently. Its size and structure was between Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 
and Spotted Flycatcher, and larger than a Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros nearby, and it had 
a large and square-sided head. 

Description 

Upper-parts: mainly olive-brown; an indistinct buff eye-ring, the lores with slight darker 
streaks, moustachial bristles present; the wing-coverts slightly darker olive-brown giving a dark- 
shouldered appearance, with paler fringes to the greater wing-coverts forming a distinct narrow 
buff wing-bar; the tips of the primaries almost as dark as the shoulders; some rufous on the short 
secondaries; the tail long, broad and rufous except for a dark brown end. Under-parts: a distinct 



59 



Sandgrouse 6 



Blue and White Flycatcher in Arabia 



throat-patch creamy white; the breast uniform pale brown, paler than the upper-parts, with a 
slight grey wash and a very few small brown streaks; the belly clear white, which merged into the 
breast with brown streaks; flanks mainly grey with only a slight tinge of brown, the feathers 
ruffled and possibly moulting; the under tail-coverts clear white, the under-side of the tail olive- 
brown like the upper-parts. Bare-parts: the eye very large and black; the bill pale pink, heavy, with 
the upper mandible broken off just short of the tip. Although not identified at first because of the 
lack of any blue visible in the plumage, the white throat-patch is diagnostic. PRC, J. Marchant, 
Dr. C. J. O. Harrison and SAW compared the photographs with skins in BM (NH) and had no 
doubt that the bird was of this species, and a first year bird. 

The second bird had an upright stance and frequently moved its tail slowly up and down, 
sometimes accompanied by a flick of the wings and a grating call "tchack" or "tak tak". Both 
birds perched on almost horizontal twigs or small branches under cover, the first bird also on 
exposed twigs and a fence. They would swoop or flutter down like a wheatear Oenanthe sp. to feed 
on small prey (presumably arthopods), picked from the ground quickly or after a brief search. The 
second bird once hopped along a table under the trees. They would then return to a perch. 

It is interesting to note that the second bird's plumage is at variance with the rather sparse 
literature. Dement'ev et al. (1954), gave the bill colour for the adult male as black and the female 
as brown, but did not mention the bill colour for immature birds. An examination of skins by 
PRC showed the bill colour of many immature birds to be decidedly paler brown with a distinctly 
lighter base of yellowish or buffish to the mandible. There is apparently no mention in the 
literature of the presence of a definite buff wing-bar in first-year birds; however, examination of 
skins showed this feature to be present. The warmer brown or rufous appearance of the tail and 
egdes to the secondaries again is not mentioned in the literature, but nevertheless is a feature noted 
in the skins. 

The fact that the second bird's upper mandible was broken off just short of the tip is, on its 
own, not enough evidence to suggest that it was an escape. It may be noted that the first accepted 
record of Siberian Thrush Zoothera sibirica for Britain had its lower mandible broken off just 
short of the tip (Sharrock & Grant et al. 1982). The Blue and White Flycatcher is common in 
captivity in eastern and south-eastern Asia and is regularly exported from Hong Kong to, for 
example, the U.K. At least 8,370 birds of many species were exported to Kuwait from Hong Kong 
in 1979 (Melville et al. 1982), and although the Blue and White Flycatcher is not specifically 
mentioned it could have been included in small numbers. However, as previously stated, both of 
the Arabian birds appeared to be natural vagrants. Furthermore, it would be unlikely that these 
duller immature birds would have been held or sold in captivity in Arabia, and even less likely that 
either would have been bred in captivity. 

The occurrence of the Blue and White Flycatcher in eastern Arabia is unexpected, but the 
species may occur in the under-watched parts of central and western Asia and be assisted further 
west by the north-east monsoon winds of winter. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Our thanks are due to the Governments of the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of 
Oman, to the Sultan of Oman's Air Force, the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation and to 
the Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), for facilities to study the birds; and to C. 
M. Greaves for additional notes on the Masirah Island bird. 

REFERENCES 

DEMENT'EV, G. P. et al. 1954. Birds of the Soviet Union. Vol: VI. (Israel Program for Scientific 
Translations Jerusalem 1968). 



60 



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Blue and White Flycatcher in Arabia 



KING, B. F. WOODCOCK, M., & DICKSON, E.C. 1975. A Field Guide to the Birds of South- 
East Asia. Glasgow. 

SHARROCK, J. T. R., & GRANT, P. J. 1982. Birds New to Britain and Ireland. Calton. 
MASSEY, J. A. et al. 1982. A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan. Wild Bird Society of Japan. 
Tokyo. 

MELVILLE, D. 1982. A Preliminary Survey of the Bird Trade in Hong Kong, from The Hong 

Kong Bird Report for 1980. Hong Kong Bird Watching Society. Hong Kong. 
VAURIE, C. 1959. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna - Passeriformes. London. 



M. D. Gallagher, Oman Natural History Museum, Ministry of National Heritage & Culture, P. O. 

Box 668, Muscat, SUL TANA TE OF OMAN. 
C. M. Saunders, Myrtle Place, Gosford Lane, Ottery St. Mary, Devon, ENGLAND. 
S. A. Webb, 1 Douglas Close, Galley wood, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8YD, ENGLAND. 
P. R. Colston. Sub-department of Ornithology, British Museum (Natural History), Tring, 

Hertfordshire, HP23 6AP, ENGLAND. 



61 



A CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW OF BIRDS FIRST DESCRIBED FROM TURKEY 
WITH THEIR CURRENT TAXONOMIC STATUS IN 1984 



by 

Hans Kumerloeve 

INTRODUCTION 

Twenty-three years ago I published a first report upon the whole Turkish avifauna 
(Kumerloeve 1961), based mainly - apart from earlier data - upon research in 1933 (Kumerloeve & 
Niethammer 1934/1935) and from 1953 to 1961 with a short reference to species and subspecies 
described from Turkey. Since then, a small number of additional forms have been described, but 
very few considering the situation of the Turkish peninsula between Europe and the mass of Asia. 
It is certain that in recent years much data has been published of field observations including sight 
records, general biological studies, special distributions, behaviour, etc. but studies on 
morphological and systematic problems have been conspicuous by their almost total absence apart 
from investigations on Alectoris partridges (Watson 1962b) and on the warblers of the 
Phylloscopus colly bita - brevirostris complex (Martens 1982, Martens & Hanel 1981, Watson 
1962a). The reasons for this particular gap in the Turkish ornithological literature are known to 
workers in the field of systematics and biogeography. With hopes for fresh and better 
opportunities for taxonomic research on Turkish birds in future years, I feel that it is helpful to 
present the following chronological review of all birds first described from Turkey. 

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF BIRDS FIRST DESCRIBED FROM TURKEY 
N.B. Currently accepted names are printed in bold italics. 

1757 

Mediterranean Gull "Larus smirnensis" Hasselquist, Smyrna = Izmir; apparently identical with 
Larus melanocephalus Temminck 1820. It should be noted that having been published before 1 
January 1758, which is the commencing date for zoological nomenclature, this name has no 
standing whatsoever in zoological nomenclature. 

1758 

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Tetrao orientalis Linnaeus, ex Hasselquist "Habitat in Oriente" 
(= Anatolia) = Pterocles orientalis orientalis Linnaeus 1758. 

White-breasted Kingfisher Alcedo smyrnensis Linneaus, ex Albin "Habitat in Africa and Asia" 
based upon specimens from Smyrna (= Izmir) = Halcyon smyrnensis smyrnensis Linnaeus 1758. 

1827 

Manx Shearwater Procellaria yelkouan Acerbi, "Hellespont, Bosphorus and Black Sea" - 
Puff inus puff inus yelkouan Acerbi 1827. 

1836 

Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cinerea Strickland (1832 is a misprint), Smyrna (= Izmir), 
preoccupied by Emberiza cinerea Gmelin 1789 = Emberiza cineracea cineracea C.L. Brehm 1855. 

Strickland's Chiffchaff Sylvia brevirostris Strickland, Smyrna (= Izmir) 22 November 1835 = 
Phylloscopus brevirostris Strickland 1836 see Watson 1962a, Wolters 1968. 



62 



Sandgrouse 6 



Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



1837 

Shore Lark Alauda penicillata Gould, Erzurum (actual year of publication = 1838) = Eremophila 
alpestris penicillata Gould 1838. 

Crimson-winged Finch Fringilla sanguined Gould, Erzurum (actual year of publication = 1838) = 
Rhodopechys sanguined sanguined Gould 1 838. 

1855 

Twite Linota brevirostris Moore, Erzurum according to Bonaparte 1855, see Kumerloeve 1967, = 
Acanthis flavirostris brevirostris Moore 1 855 . 

Snow Finch Montifringilla ieucura Bonaparte, Erzurum, = Montifringilla nivalis alpicola Pallas 
1811. 

Black Redstart Ruticilla erythroprocta Gould, Erzurum, = Phoenicurus ochruros ochruros S.G. 
Gmelin 1774. 

1863 

Kriiper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi Pelzeln 1863, Smyrna ( = Izmir). 

White-throated Robin Saxicola albigularis Pelzeln, Kleinasien (= Asia Minor), = Irania 
gutturalis Guerin 1 843 . 

1865 

Long-tailed Tit Orites tephronotus Giinther, "Asiatic side of Bosphorus" = Aegithalos caudatus 
tephronotus Giinther 1865. See Snow 1967. 

1868 

Starling Sturnus purpurascens Gould, Erzurum = Sturnus vulgaris purpurascens Gould 1868. 

1876 

Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus tauricus Dresser, Bulgar Dagi and Aladag (eastern Taurus 
Mountains) = Tetraogallus caspius caspius S.G. Gmelin 1784. 

1877 

Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus challayei Oustalet, Erzurum, = Tetraogallus caspius caspius S.G. 
Gmelin 1784. 

1882 

Darter Plotus chantrei Oustalet, Lake of Antioch (= Amik Golti) = Anhinga rufa chantrei 
Oustalet 1882. 

1883 

Jay Garrulus atricapillus subsp. andtolide Seebohm, Asia Minor and the eastern areas, = 
Garrulus glandarius krynicki Kaleniczenko 1839. 

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Picus danfordi Hargitt, Taurus/southern Asia Minor = 
Dendrocopus minor danfordi 1 883 . 

1888 

Saker Falco (Genndid) sdker gurneyi, Meuzbier, Tarsus/ Asia Minor, (see Hartert 1913: 1061 - 
1062; Gurney 1894; Dresser 1881), perhaps an escaped raptor for falconry? = Falco cherrug 
milvipes Jerdon 1871. 



63 



Sandgrouse 6 



Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



1901 

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia familiaris harterti Hellmayr, "Asia Minor" (e.g. near Smyrna = 
Izmir; Alimdag - the type specimen was obtained there, see Sick 1939) = Certhia brachydactyla 
harterti Hellmayr 1901 . 

1903 

Coal Tit Periparus ater L. var. derjugini Zarudny & Loudon, Coruh area in Lazistan, north 
eastern Turkey = Parus ater derjugini Zarudny & Loudon 1903. 

1905 

Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae Hartert 1905, subsp. nov., "Ahoory", Asia Minor male at 
5,000'. 

Nuthatch Sitta europaea levantina, Hartert, 1905, subsp. nov. "Taurus, Asia Minor". 

1907 

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis niediecki Reichenow 1907, Eregli, southeastern Asia Minor. 

Jay Garrulus lendlii Madarasz, Taurus Mountains, see Hartert 1910: xv 2nd footnote, 
unidentifiable, either Garrulus glandarius krynicki Kaleniczenko 1839 or Garrulus glandarius 
atricapillus St. Hilaire 1832. 

1908 

Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta zarudnyi buturlin, "Aydin to the Taurus", see Vaurie (1959:531), = 
? Sitta neumayer syriaca Temminck 1835 or ? Sitta tephronota subsp see Eggers 1977. 

1910 

Eagle Owl. Bubo bubo interpositus Rothschild & Hartert 1910, Eregli, southern Anatolia. (Note: 
Bubo bubo armeniacus Nesterov 1912 "Armenia", is regarded by Vaurie (1965:582) as a 
synonym). 

1912 

Crested Lark Ptilocorys cristata weigoldi Kollibay, Urfa, south Turkey east of Upper Euphrates 
= Galerida cristata weigoldi Kollibay 1912, or according to Vaurie (1959:45), = Galerida cristata 
subtaurica Kollibay 1912. 

Crested Lark Ptilocorys cristata subtaurica Kollibay, Eregli, (southern Anatolia) = Galerida 
cristata subtaurica Kollibay 1912. 

Crested Lark Ptilocoys cristata ioniae Kollibary, Priene, south of Smyrna - Izmir, = Galerida 
cristata caucasica Taczanowski 1887. 

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates medius anatoliae Hartert, subsp,. nov., Xanthus, Asia 
Minor, = Dendrocopus medius caucasicus Bianchi 1905. 

1918 

Penduline Tit Anthoscopus pendulinus perrimilis Hartert, Eregli, southern Anatolia = Remit 
pendulinus menzbieri Zarudny 1913: (Vaurie 1959:548) or Remiz pendulinus pendulinus 
Linnaeus 1758 (Snow 1967:62). 



64 



Sandgrouse 6 



Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



1933 

Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus billypayni Meinertzhagen 1933, Lake of Antioch = 
Amik Colli, Hatay, Turkey. 

1934 

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla stresemanni Kumerloeve & Niethammer, 
Kastamonu, Paphlagonia, northern Anatolia, = Certhia brachydactyla harterti Hellmayr 1901. 
(Note: Greenway in: Peters XII: 156-157, did not recognise subspecific divisions in this species.) 

Crested Lark Galerida cristata ankarae Kumerloeve & Niethammer, Ankara, Antaolia = Galerida 
cristata subtaurica Kollibay 1912. 

Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum gabrielae Neumann, Elmali, southwest Asia Minor 
= Hippolais pallida elaeica Lindermayer 1843. 



1935 

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates major paphlagoniae Kumerloeve & Niethammer, Ilgaz 
Dagi, northern Anatolia = Dendrocops major pinetorum C. L. Brehm 1831. 

1937 

Dipper Cinclus cinclus amphitryon Neumann & Paludan, Varsambek, Lasistan, northeast Turkey 
= Cinclus cinclus cinclus Linnaeus 1758. See Vaurie 1959: 194-195. 

Stonechat Saxicola torquata gabrielae Neumann & Paludan, Uludag/Bithynian Olympos, 
northwest Anatolia = Saxicola torquata rubicola Linnaeus 1766. See Varuie 1959:336. 



1943 

Crossbill Loxia curvirostra vasvarii A. Keve (= A. Kleiner), Bolu Dagi, Elemen Jaila, northwest 
Anatolia = Loxia curvirostra curvirostra Linnaeus 1758. See Vaurie 1959:649. 

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscrivorus bithynicus A. Keve ( = A. Kleiner), Sogukpinar, also Mytilene 
Island = Turdus viscivorus viscivorus Linnaeus 1758. See Vaurie 1959:410. 

1958 

Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus kosswigi Kumerloeve 1958, Lake of Antioch = Amik Golii, 
Hatay, Turkey. 



1961 

Graceful Warbler Prinia gracilis akyildizi Watson 1961, Antalya, southern Anatolia. 

Snow Finch Montifringlla nivalis fahrettini Watson 1961, Ak Dagi. Kas near Antalya, southern 
Anatolia. 

Dunnock Prunella modularis euxina Watson 1961, Uludag/Bithynian Olympos northwest 
Anatolia. 

Robin Erithacus rubecula balcanicus Watson 1961, Boz Dagi near Odemis (Izmir) western 
Anatolia. 



65 



Sandgrouse 6 



Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



1963 

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens niethammeri Kumerloeve 1963, Taskopru - Ortakoy 
near Eber Golii/Aksehir Golii, central Anatolia. 

1967 

Jay Garrulus glandarius hansguentheri A. Keve 1967, Taskopru - Buyukcekmece, eastern Thrace, 
European Turkey. 

1969 

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla woltersi Kumerloeve 1969, Lake of Antioch = Amik 
Golii, Hatay, Turkey. 

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra hollomi Kumerloeve 1969, eastern Anatolia (around Van 
Golii, Hakari, Yuksekova, etc.). 

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra senguni Kumerloeve 1969, Van Golii, Ermaniz Golii, Yuksekova, 
Hakari, etc. 

Whitethroat Sylvia communis traudeli Kumerloeve 1969, Tatvan-Van, Hakkari and other areas in 
eastern Turkey. 

House Sparrow Passer domesticus mayaudi Kumerloeve 1969, Van city, Baskale, Hakkari and 
other towns and villages in eastern/southeastern Turkey. 

1970 

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra dathei Kumerloeve 1970, Ceylanpinar (southeastern 
Turkey), also Urfa, Birecik, Aleppo, Djabboul. 

Excluding the single name published before 1758, the 55 names in the foregoing list are as 
follows: 

Full species currently accepted: 6 
Currently accepted subspecies: 29 
Sunk in synonymies of previously described forms: 19 
Unidentifiable: 1 



Total = 55 



CONCLUSIONS 

As seen from the preceding list, there have been no further taxonomic studies on the Turkish 
avifauna since 1970, either because no-one wanted to study existing or newly collected material, or 
else because studies were inhibited by the difficulties involved in obtaining permits for collecting 
specimens in Turkey itself. In a big country like Turkey, which forms a unique bridge between the 
western and eastern Palaearctic, 50 published names (which themselves should be confirmed by 
more specimens) are surely too few considering more than 400 species (exact number at present 
apparently unknown) may be expected. How many of these are significant subspecies? 

In a preliminary list (Kumerloeve 1966), I noted 244 breeding species (present and past), 18 
probably breeding, 22 possibly breeding, c.100 regular migrants and 18 doubtfuls - these numbers 
have probably increased due to the large numbers of interested people visiting Turkey. It follows 
that the problems of geographical distribution and taxonomic status have increased since the 



66 



Sandgrouse 6 



Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



Turkish avifauna was first explored by English, French and German naturalists and travellers of 
the 19th Century. Modern studies should use bird skin and skeleton collections together with 
analyses of ecology, behaviour, etc. as bases for research. As someone who has been engaged in 
bird and mammal research in Turkey and other Near and Middle Eastern countries since 1933, I 
present this list as a stimulus for more taxonomic research on the avifauna of Turkey and adjacent 
countries. 

ACKOWLEDGEMENT 

I am most grateful to D. Lees-Smith for improving the English of the manuscript and for 
helpful suggestions and addition of English names. 

REFERENCES 

EGGERS, J. 1977. Weiteres zum Vorkomen des Klippenhleibers (Sitta tephronota) in der Sudost 

Turkei. Vogelwelt 98: 25-27. 
GREENWAY, J. C. Jr. 1967. Certhiidae. in R. A. Paynter Jr. (ed) Check-list of Birds of the 

World, vol. 12. Cambridge, Mass. USA. 
HARTERT, E. 1903-1923. Die Vogel der palaarktischen Fauna. 3 volumes. Berlin. 
HARTERT, E. & STEINBACHER, F. 1932-1938. Die Vogel der palaarktischen Fauna. Berlin. 
KEVE, A. 1967. A new form of Garrulus glandarius (Linn). Bull. Brit. Orn. Club. 87: 39-40. 
KUMERLOEVE, H & NIETHAMMER G. 1934/5. Beitrage zur Kenntuis der Avifauna 

Kleinasiens. (Paphlagonien und Galatien.) Journ. Ornith. 82: 505-552; 83: 25-75. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1958. Eine neuer Bartmeisenform am Amik Golii (See von Antiochia). 

Bonner Zool. Beitr. 9: 193-199. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1961. Zur Kenntnis der Avifauna Kleinasiens. Bonner Zool. Beitr. 12: 

Sonderheft: 1-318. 

KUMERLOEVE, H. 1963. Calandrella rufescens niethammeri, eine neue Stummellershenform 

aus Inneranatolien (Turkei). Vogelwelt 84: 146-148. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1966. Liste systematique revisee des especes d'oiseaux de Turquie. Alauda 

34: 165-186. 

KUMERLOEVE, H. 1967. Contribution a la connaissance de Carduelis (Acanthis) flavirostris 

brevirostris (Bonaparte, 1855). Alauda 35: 118-124. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1969. Zur Avifauna des Van Golii- und Hakkari Gebietes (E/SE Kleinasien). 

Istanbul Univ. Fen Fakult. Mecmuasi B 34: 245-312. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1969. Sur la situation subspecifique des Mesanges a moustache (Panurus 

biarmicus) en Asie Mineure et ses alentours. A ves 6: 61 . 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1969. Zur Rassenbildung der Kurzzehenlerche, Calandrella brachydactyla, 

im vorderasiatischen Raum. Jorurn. Ornith. 1 10: 324-325. 
KUMERLOEVE, H. 1970. Zur Vogelwelt in Raume Ceylanpinar (turkisch-syrisches Grenzgebiet). 

Beitr. Vogelkde 16: 239-249. 
MARTENS, J. & HANEL S. 1981. Gesangformen und Verwandschaft der asistischen Zilpzalp 

Phylloscopus collybita Z. f zool. Syst. v. Evolitionsforschung 20: 82-100. 
MARTENS, J. & S. HANEL. 1981. Gesangformen und Verwandschaft der asiatischen Zilpzalp 

Phylloscopus collybita abietinus und Ph.c.sindianus. J.f.Orn. 122: 403-427. 
SNOW, D. W. 1967. Aegithalidae, pp 52-61. R. A. M. Paynter Jr. (ed) Checklist of Birds of the 

World. Volume 12, pp IX, 495. Cambridge, Mass., USA. 
VAURIE, C. 1959. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna. Order Passerif or mes. London. 
VAURIE, C. 1965. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna. Non-Passeriformes. London. 
WATSON, G. E. 1961. Agean Bird Notes. I. Descriptions of new subspecies from Turkey. 

Post ilia 52: 1-15. 



67 



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Taxonomic review of new birds from Turkey 



WATSON, G. E. 1962a. A Re-valuation and Re-description of a difficult Asia Minor 

Phylloscopus. Ibis 104: 347-352. 
WATSON, G. E. 1962b. Three Sibling Species of Alectoris Partridge. Ibis 104: 353-367. 
WOLTERS, H. E. 1968. Aus der ornithologischen Sammlung des Museums Alexander Koenig. 

/. Bonner Zool. Beitr. 19: 157-164. 
WOLTERS, H. E. 1975/82. Die Vogelarten der Erde. Hamburg. 



Dr. H. Kumerloeve, 8032 Mtichen - Grafelfing, Hubert-Reissner Sir. 7. WEST GERMANY. 



68 



SOME NOTES ON THE IDENTIFICATION, SONG AND HABITAT OF THE 
GREEN WARBLER 
IN THE WESTERN BLACK SEA COASTLANDS OF TURKEY 



by 

J. S. M. Albrecht 

INTRODUCTION 

It has so far been reported that the breeding range of the Green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus 
reaches its most western point in northeast Turkey (Ticehurst 1938; Harrison 1982). However, the 
observations reported here suggest that the species breeds in western Turkey some 700 km. west of 
previously reported locations (OST 1972, 1975, 1978). 

In addition it has long been held that the Green Warbler is a bright green leaf warbler with a 
wing bar which makes it relatively easily separated from other species (Ticehurst 1938; Vaurie 
1954; Heinzel et al 1972). However the plumage of the birds described here was dull and similar to 
that of the European Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides viridanus so that it was only possible to be 
certain of the identity by the song which was recorded and subsequently identified by observers 
familiar with the species. Sonograms have been prepared for comparison with published 
sonograms of Green and Greenish Warblers and these have confirmed the identification. 

The purpose of this paper is fivefold: (i) to report the probable breeding of the Green Warbler 
in western Turkey; (ii) to document hitnerto unreported plumage variation in the species; (iii) to 
document the song of the Green Warbler using sonograms and to demonstrate the value of song 
recordings and sonograms in overcoming problems of identification based on plumage and song 
descriptions alone; (iv) to report previously unrecognised aspects of the Green Warbler habitat and 
(v) to draw attention to the ornithological importance of the area in which the birds were found. 

DESCRIPTION 

1. General 

On 23 May 1978 at least four Green Warblers were seen singing in mixed forest at about 
1,500 metres a.s.l. in the Western Pontic Mountains south of Diizce (40°40'N, 31°10'E.). The 
descriptions and tape recordings were made on this date. There were at least two singing in the 
same area on 13 June 1978. Subsequently on 20 May 1983 M. Beaman and I. S. Robertson saw six 
singing males plus six others in Beech and mixed woodland on the slopes above the road between 
Bolu and Abant Golu about 30 km. from the location at Diizce (M. Beaman pers. com.). While 
breeding as such is not proved it is extremely probable at both places. 

2. Plumage 

In the Diizce birds the upper parts, that is the crown, nape, back and upper wing surfaces 
were grey green. There was a single pale wing bar on the greater coverts. The supercilium, throat 
and breast were pale yellow to greyish white depending on the light. The remainder of the 
undersurfaces were pale but the colour was not discernible. The bill was horn and the gape yellow. 
The legs were dark. In general the birds were neither very yellow nor very green and resembled 
more the colour of Greenish Warbler than of Green Warbler as illustrated in Heinzel et al (1972). 
The birds seen near Abant Golu in May 1983 were in the main like the Diizce birds, that is pale 
below with no bright yellow colour, but at least one of the birds was very yellow below as in the 
illustration in Heinzel et al (1972) (M. Beaman pers. com.). 

3. Voice/Song 

It is notoriously difficult to describe any song or call in such a way as to describe its full 
meaning. The call was a di-syllabic "Tss-eurp". I am grateful to R. F. Porter for his description of 



69 




70 



Sandgrouse 6 



Green Warbler in Turkey 



Green Warbler song in northeast Turkey in 1975. "The song was like a cross between a quiet Cetti's 
Warbler Cettia cetti and a Coal Tit Parus ater song but with the notes not so clipped as either of 
these two species, "chewee chewee chewee chewee chui chui chui chui", the delivery being like that 
of a powerful Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus but with no descant; at times the delivery 
was almost Wren Troglodytes troglodytes - like." This is a reasonably accurate description of the 
song of the birds described here. 

SONOGRAMS 

A Phillips cassette recorder and portable microphone were used to record the singing birds 
and sonograms of the recordings are presented here (Figures 3-6). Unfortunately no recording was 
made of the call and therefore I am grateful to P. A. D. Hollom for the loan of his recordings of 
Green Warblers on migration in Iran on 10 May 1977. Figure 1 shows the "Tss-eurp" call from the 
Iranian birds. The call was repeated every three to four seconds for about a minute. The song from 
these migrating birds was clearly incomplete consisting of just three or four elements (Figure 2). 
Voice transcriptions and notes made from the tape recordings have been added to the sonograms 
to facilitate their interpretation. It will be seen that the Green Warbler has a distinctive trill or buzz 
element in the middle of its song (Figure 6). Some of the songs of the Greenish Warbler recorded in 
Sweden (Palmer & Boswall, 1972) have a distinctive rattle at the end. A sonogram of one such song 
is presented (Figure 7). The rattle of the Greenish Warbler is audibly quite distinct from the buzz 
of the Green Warbler and this difference is clear in the sonogram (compare Figures 6 and 7). The 
buzz is also found in the songs of Green Warblers breeding in Iran (Martens 1980) and is 
considered a distinctive feature of the Green Warbler song (Martens in litt.). The main differences 
between the songs of the Green Warblers recorded at Diizce and those breeding in Iran are that the 
pitch of the Turkish birds is less high (a frequency of about 7.5 khz.) than that of the Iranian birds 
which often surpass 8 khz, and the time gap between individual elements of the song is longer in 
the Turkish birds which has facilitated their transcription. Martens could not separate the 
individual elements in his recordings (in litt.). 

IDENTIFICATION 

The birds reported here at Diizce are identified as being Green Warblers principally by their 
song. Both R. F. Porter and M. Beaman, who have extensive experience of Green Warblers in 
Turkey and elsewhere, had no hesitation in identifying the recordings as belonging to Green 
Warbler. The recordings were audibly distinct from recordings of Greenish Warblers in Sweden 
(Palmer & Boswall 1972). The sonograms (Figures 3-6) resemble published sonograms of Green 
Warbler from Iran rather than the published sonograms of Greenish Warbler (Martens 1980). It is 
relevant that the Greenish Warbler, which these birds most resemble, has not been recorded in 
Turkey in spring and only once in autumn since at least 1966 (OST 1969, 1972, 1975, 1978 and 
M. Beaman pers. com.). The Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus boreal is has never been recorded in 
Turkey (OST. opus cit). 



LEGENDS FOR FIGURES (Opposite) 

Figure 1 . "Tss-eurp" call of Green Warbler in Iran. 

Figure 2. Incomplete song of migrating Green Warbler in Iran. 

Figures 3-6. Complete songs of Green Warblers in Western Turkey. Note the trill/buzz element 
(Figures 4-6) which is most fully developed in Figure 6. 

Figure 7. Song of Greenish Warbler in Sweden. Note rattle at the end of the song. 



71 



Sandgrouse 6 



Green Warbler in Turkey 



DISCUSSION 
1. Identification 

According to the literature (e.g. Williamson 1967) the Green Warbler is a bright green leaf 
warbler resembling a Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix and quite distinct from the duller 
Greenish Warbler which resembles a Willow Warbler. Apparently museum skins are supposed to 
be equally distinct according to both Ticehurst (1938) and Vaurie (1954) who claim that Green 
Warbler skins can hardly be confused with Greenish Warbler or in fact with any other 
Phylloscopus. This was not my experience when I examined the material in the British Museum 
(Natural History) at Tring, England. Some birds had been collected as one species and later re- 
named as the other and some birds labelled P. nitidus (Green Warbler) looked identical to other 
labelled P. trochiloides viridanus (the subspecies of Greenish Warbler which nests in the Western 
Palearctic) and vice versa. This included one Green Warbler taken on 1 March in Sri Lanka 
whose belly lacked yellow and was very washed out similar to the Diizce birds. Skins of P.t. 
trochiloides (the nominate Greenish Warbler which nests from Nepal to China) are fairly distinct 
having a brown-olive back and off-white underparts with very little yellow. P. nitidus (Green) and 
P. t. viridanus (Greenish) have olive green backs with nitidus having a yellow green and viridanus 
having a grey green back on average but there is overlap. Similarly, nitidus generally has more 
yellow than viridanus on the breast and belly but there is considerable overlap. It is therefore of 
some surprise that both Ticehurst and Vaurie {opus cit) should have reported that coloration was 
such an important feature in distinguishing P. nitidus skins from those of all other Phylloscopus 
species and that Ticehurst claimed that he found no intergrades between P. nitidus and P. 
trochiloides viridanus especially since his review was based in large part on his rearrangement of 
the same skins that I examined. Subsequently Ali and Ripley (1973) have reported intergrades 
between the two in the U.S. National Museum. To conclude: the difference between the museum 
skins of Green and Greenish Warblers is far less clear cut than previous literature leads one to 
believe. 

Turning to the problems of field identification even less work has been done using living 
material in the field. Most of the descriptions are based on museum skins. According to Ticehurst 
(1938) and sustained by Williamson (1967) a complete moult takes place in winter quarters 
between February and April in both Green and Greenish Warblers. Therefore in late spring they 
should both be relatively easy to recognise being in fresh plumage. Kitson (1979) tabulated the 
main features distinguishing Green, Greenish and Two-barred Greenish Phylloscopus 
plumbeitarsus Warblers. While he indicated that Green Warblers can lack yellow on the 
underparts, he stated that the green on the upper parts of the Green Warbler can approach that of 
the Wood Warbler compared to the "grey to olive-brown" of the upper parts of Greenish 
Warbler. He concluded by stating that he believed that the "three warblers are normally separable 
in the field by close observation of the upper- and underpart tones (most green and yellow in 
Green)," and "prominence of the greater covert bar". However, neither the birds seen at Diizce 
nor the majority of the birds seen near Abant Golii were very green or very yellow but were dull 
like Greenish Warblers in spite of being in relatively fresh plumage. Indeed, contrary to the 
published literature, there seems to be widespread agreement among birdwatchers that many 
Green Warblers are dull and look very like Greenish Warblers. R. F. Porter (pers. com.) found 
particularly dull looking Green Warblers in northeast Turkey and even A. R. Kitson (in litt.) 
agreed that some Turkish Green Warblers can be very like Greenish Warblers "being apparently 
greyish from above and washed out below". M. Beaman (pers. com.) reported that about 80 per 
cent of spring Green Warblers in northeast Turkey are very dull with little or no yellow. A similar 
situation exists in the Caucasus Mountains in the south of the Soviet Union where many of the 
Green Warblers are dull with a faint wash of yellow which closely resembles Greenish Warbler. 
But, while the plumage is similar, the song is very different from that of Greenish Warbler in the 
Moscow area (S. C. Madge pers. com.). In southern India in spring R. Grimmet (pers. com.) 



72 



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Green Warbler in Turkey 



found a complete range from obvious Green through some birds that were impossible to identify 
to obvious Greenish Warblers. 

In addition to the problems of distinguishing Green and Greenish Warblers confusion is 
possible with other species as well. Skins of the race humei of the Yellow-browed Warbler 
Phylloscopus inornatus humei in the British Museum at Tring, England apart from being slightly 
smaller, are not very different from some Greenish and Green Warbler skins. A Yellow-browed 
Warbler seen in December 1977 on the Black Sea Coast (Albrecht in prep) looked very similar to 
the Diizce Green Warblers in that it too was a dull green leaf warbler with a greater covert bar but 
no obvious sign of a median covert bar. The main differences between Arctic Warbler and Green, 
Greenish and Yellow-browed Warblers have been recently summarised by Robertson (1984). 

It is thus clear that field indentification of some Green Warblers based on plumage criteria 
alone is much more difficult than the previous literature suggests. Further there is disagreement as 
to whether the call note is sufficient for identification particularly with respect to Greenish 
Warbler. This situation has been reviewed by Kitson (1979) who drew no conclusions. 

The Phylloscopus warblers as a whole show very little specific morphological variation and 
many of the species are virtually impossible to identify in the field unless the song is heard. The 
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita and the Willow Warbler are familiar European examples. These 
two are however easily identified by their song which is doubtless equally important to the birds 
themselves. Indeed, as Martens (1980) has pointed out, the developemnt of discrete song patterns 
was presumably especially important in speciation within the genus. It follows that song 
characteristics are likely to be as important as plumage characteristics in the identification of the 
Phylloscopus warblers. 

In conclusion the song of the Green Warbler is audibly distinct from that of the Greenish 
Warbler at least in the Western Palearctic and has a characteristic sonogram. However since song 
is usually heard only in the breeding season it is of little use for identification in winter or on 
migration when problems of indentification are more likely to arise. It is therefore clear that much 
more information is needed from the breeding areas on both plumage and voice in order to 
facilitate identification at other times of the year. 



2. Habitat and Distribution 

The Diizce birds were seen in mixed forest at about 1,500 metres a.s.l. They were in an area of 
Beech and conifer wood next to a road and rocky stream. Beyond the stream the area had been 
extensively felled leaving Rhododendron scrub. Cattle were being grazed in the area. The birds were 
singing from the trees but some at least were feeding among bushes by the stream. There are few 
published descriptions of the breeding habitat of the Green Warbler. Gaston (1974) classified its 
feeding niche as "arboreal, deciduous" but "arboreal, deciduous and/or coniferous" is a better 
classification because not only is the habitat described here mixed deciduous and coniferous, but in 
eastern Turkey Green Warblers have been found nesting in mixed Alder and Spruce forest at 1,700 
metres (R. F. Porter pers. com.) and also in mountain mixed deciduous and Spruce forest with 
occasional firs (A. R. Kitson in litt.). Indeed the species has been found nesting in a clearing 
among Spruce with no deciduous trees reported (OST 1978). 

It is not clear whether these observations represent a real spread in the range of the Green 
Warbler or, as seems more likely, they have not been reported before because few ornithologists 
have visited the area {c.f. Albrecht 1981). Nor is it known what effect tree felling has on the 
population or distribution. However, it is clear from the relatively few visits to the mountain forest 
that the whole area is of great ornithological interest and is in urgent need of a complete survey in 
the breeding season (May and June) to gain a clearer idea of the distribution and status of birds in 
the forests on the Western Pontic Mountains. Such a survey would provide a base line for those 
interested in planning the conservation and management of the mountain forests. 



73 



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Green Warbler in Turkey 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I am grateful to the many people who helped in various ways and particularly to those 
mentioned in the text and to the following: J. Boswall, S. Cramp and C. Harbard who assisted in 
identifying the songs. B. Curtis who assisted with some recordings. Joan Hall-Craggs who kindly 
produced the sonograms and advised on their interpretation. Dr. S. A. Henderson who advised on 
sonogram presentation and prepared the Figures. The British Museum (Natural History) that at 
Tring allowed me to examine their bird skins. Dr. L. Cornwallis, A. R. Kitson, P. P. Massey and 
R. F. Porter who made helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. S. Somcag who provided 
the Turkish summary. 

SUMMARY 

(i) A range exension of 700 km. to the west of the previously recorded range of the Green 
Warbler is reported. 

(ii) The plumage of the warblers resembled that of Greenish Warbler rather than the published 
descriptions of Green Warbler. 

(iii) Sonograms of songs of Green and Greenish Warblers are presented. 

(iv) The Green Warblers were indentified by the trill or buzz element in their song. 

(v) Problems of identifying Green and Greenish Warblers are discussed together with features of 
the habitat and distribution. 

BASLIK: 

Bati Karandeniz Bolesinde Yesil Civgin'in Phylloscopus nitidus Taninmasi, Otiisii ve Habitati 
Hakkinda Notlar. 

OZET: 

(i) Yesil Civgin'in daha once bilinen ureme alaninin 700 km. batisinda urediginin saptandigi 
belirtiliyor. 

(ii) Civginlarm gorunusii yayinlanan Yesil Civgin tariflerinden cok Phylloscopus trochiloides'i 
andirmaktadir. 

(iii) Her iki tiiriin sonogramlan verilmektedir. 

(iv) Yesil Civginlar otiislerindeki titreklik ya da vizilti ile ayirt edilmislerdir. 

(v) Iki tiirii ayirt etmede karsilasilan giicliikler habitat ve dagilim ozellikleriyle birlikte 
irdelenmektedir. 



REFERENCES 

ALBRECHT, J. S. M. 1981. Red-breasted Flycatcher - A New Breeding Species for Turkey. 
Sandgrouse 3: 91-92. 

ALBRECHT, J. S. M. Notes on the Birds of Eregli, Black Sea Coastlands, Turkey. In preparation. 
ALI, S. & RIPLEY, S. D. 1973. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Vol. 8. Oxford. 
GASTON, A. J. 1974. Adaptation in the Genus Phylloscopus. Ibis 116: 432-449. 
HARRISON, C. 1982. An Atlas of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. London. 
HEINZEL, H., FITTER, R. & PARSLOW, J. 1972. The Birds of Britain and Europe with North 
A frica and the Middle East. London. 



74 



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Green Warbler in Turkey 



KITSON, A. R. 1979. Identification of Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear and Three 

Phylloscopus Warblers. British Birds 72: 5-9. 
MARTENS, J. 1980. Lautausserungen, verwandtschaftliche Beiziehungen und Verbrietungs- 

geschichte asiatischer Laubsanger Phylloscopus. Supplement 22 to J. Comp. Ethology. 
ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF TURKEY. (OST) 1969. Bird Report No. 1 (1966-1967). 
ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF TURKEY. (OST) 1972. Bird Report No. 2 (1968-1969). 
ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF TURKEY. (OST) 1975. Bird Report No. 3 (1970-1973). 
ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF TURKEY. (OST) 1978. Bird Report No. 4 (1974-1975). 
PALMER, S. & BOSWALL, J. 1972. A Field Guide to the Bird Songs of Britain and Europe. 

Record RFLP 5008. Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, Stockholm. 
ROBERTSON, I. S. 1984. Mystery Photographs 93 Arctic Warbler. British Birds 77: 415-417. 
TICEHURST, C. B. 1938. A Systematic Review of the Genus Phylloscopus. London: Trustees 

of the British Museum. 

VAURIE, C. 1954. Systematic notes on Palearctic birds No. 9. Sylviinae: the genus Phylloscopus. 

Amer. Mus. Nov. No. 1685 pp 23. 
WILLIAMSON, K. 1976. Identification for Ringers. 2. The Genus Phylloscopus. B.T.O. Tring. 



/. 5. M. Albrecht, 12 Hemingford Road, Cambridge CB1 3BZ, ENGLAND. 



75 



BOOTED EAGLES IN INTERMEDIATE PLUMAGE SEEN AT EILAT, ISRAEL 

by 

Valde Holmgren 



INTRODUCTION 

During the massive spring migration of raptors over the Eilat area, Israel, the Booted Eagle 
Hieraaetus pennatus features as a regular migrant in small numbers. The spring seasons of 1976 and 
1977 were well covered by Danish ornithologists and 100 and 175 Booted Eagles were counted 
respectively (Christensen et al 1981). The ratio of the two colour phases of the Booted Eagle is 
given as 7:3 (pale to dark) in Europe but evidently more equal in Russia (Cramp & Simmons 
1980). The latter statement is supported by the observations of the morph ratio at Eilat 1976 and 
1977, when the numbers were 1:1 and c.7:4 (pale to dark) respectively (Christensen et al 1981) - the 
Booted Eagle heads northeast from Eilat towards U.S.S.R. 

The occurrence of intermediate forms of the Booted Eagle is only barely acknowledged in the 
ornithological literature, perhaps understandably so, as no specimens seem to have been collected 
(Glutz von Blotzheim et al 1971, Cramp & Simmons 1980, Dement'ev & Gladkov 1951, 
Hartert 1912-21). In Dement'ev and Gladkov there is a very diffuse and brief description: "An 
intermediate ochre type with pale brownish bars or brown with small round ochre patches forming 
crossbars" which refers to birds in first year plumage. In Glutz von Blotzheim et al 1971 there is a 
reference to an intermediate phase, stated to be of dark morph character and with flight-feathers 
darker than others. That pale areas can be darker and dark areas paler than normal for both pale 
and dark morphs is also mentioned. Cramp and Simmons 1980 state only that "rare intermediate 
form occurs". Hartert has no reference to intermediate forms. 

On the whole, this meagre information casts very little light on the question of the appearance 
of intermediate Booted Eagles. 

The aim of this paper is to document two observations of Booted Eagles in intermediate 
plumages, seen at Eilat, Israel. One was sighted by myself in 1981 and the other by a few members 
of a group trip in which I also participated, in 1982. 



CIRCUMSTANCES AND DESCRIPTION OF 1981 SIGHTING 

In 1981 I was able to follow the raptor migration at Eilat from the beginning of March to mid- 
April and apart from Booted Eagles seen overhead on passage, I also saw on several occasions 
single Booted Eagles hunting around the kibbutz fields east of Eilat township. Here, on 11 April, I 
saw for the first time a Booted Eagle decidedly different from the two regular morphs (my 
previous experience is of about 125 individuals seen in southern Europe, northern Africa and 
Israel). The eagle was circling slowly, scanning the ground and could immediately be identified as 
a Booted, the upper-parts being correctly marked (whitish-buff tail coverts and band along wing 
coverts, white neck spots), although the flight-feathers were paler than usual, being greyish- 
brown. The underparts were, however, not easily referable to either pale or dark phase; the 
impression given was of a pale, buffish-grey bird with a dark line in wings with pale, dark-tipped 
hands. During the late mornings of the next three days I saw this Booted Eagle again, once each 
day over the area of the kibbutz fields and I managed in this period to photograph the bird (the 
reproduction shown here {see plate 11) is from a colour transparency, but has unfortunately lost 
some clarity during processing). The observation opportunities of the eagle did not render adequate 
enough views of the upperparts for details to be noted other than what is scantily outlined above 
and therefore the following description based on field notes and studies of the colour 



76 



Sand grouse 6 



Booted Eagles in intermediate plumage 



transparency, concerns only the underparts. Continuous comparisons with plumages of the 
normal pale and dark phases will not be made here, but see Porter et al 1981 and Cramp and 
Simmons 1980 for this purpose. 

The conspicuous feature of the bird was a dark, blackish-brown bar along the wings, angling 
from mid-body to the carpal joint and contrasting greatly with the otherwise generally pale 
underparts. This band was formed by the greater and primary coverts being blackish or dark 
brown; remaining coverts area: buffish, washed rufous - strongest on lesser coverts and leading 
edge of wing. Flecks of dark brown could be seen along the bar's rear edge, being spots or bars on 
the basal parts of the flight-feathers. Secondaries: grey, primaries: mainly pale grey and broadly 
tipped blackish-brown (distal halves of longest primaries dark, inner 5-6 primaries: wholly pale); 
inner two or three primaries: paler - whitish and translucent (the characteristic Booted Eagle 
wedge), merging with outerlying primaries and forming together with these and the unusually pale 
inner parts of the remaining primaries a large light patch on the inner hand, contrasting with the 
dark wing bar and primary tips. (During close scrutiny of the colour transparency - when viewed 
against a lamp - close barring of grey/light grey on the pale parts of all the flight-feathers can be 
seen faintly but this was not noticeable in the field.) Lower breast, belly, undertail coverts and 
outer tail-feathers: buffish-grey, paler than arm; body: paling towards rear; central tail-feathers: 
grey, clearly darker than outer along full length; faint grey tips also to outer rectrices. Upper 
breast: rusty-buff, demarcated from paler lower breast; throat and cheeks: dark grey-brown, 
slightly darker than upper breast, giving hooded appearance. 



CIRCUMSTANCES AND DESCRIPTION OF 1982 SIGHTING 

In 1982 I again visited Eilat, this time for the first week of April and with a group of Swedish 
birdwatchers. On the 5 April three of the group-members (B. Breife, S. Rodebrand and O. Staaf) 
saw and one photographed a Booted Eagle in a darkish plumage, but differing from a normal dark 
morph. The eagle was seen soaring, together with a few Steppe Buzzards Buteo buteo vulpinus, 
gaining height over the northern fields of the kibbutz area, before it continued on passage towards 
the north-northeast. This was the only observation of an odd-looking Booted Eagle during that 
trip. Later I compared the two colour transparencies of the 1982 bird, taken by B. Breife, with my 
own from 1981 and similarities between the two Booted Eagles are apparent. 

The 1982 eagle was also an intermediate, but considerably darker than the 1981 bird and its 
plumage of much less contrast, the overall colouring being brownish. The general impression of 
this bird is perhaps most easily described if the eagle is thought of as a pale phase with the pale 
areas smudged to dusky-brown and the flight-feathers slightly paler than usual - dark brown. The 
following description again concerns only the underparts, as shown by the two colour 
transparencies of the soaring eagles. (Unfortunately these photographs were slightly too dark to be 
reproduced in black and white.). The upperparts were not seen well in the field, but did not seem 
to differ from normal (B. Breife pers. com.). 

Primary and greater coverts: dark brown, forming an indistinctly demarcated dark band, 
least distinct nearest the body and angling from mid-body to carpal joint. Remaining coverts area: 
mainly pale grey-brown, but unevenly smudged darker brown where adjoining the wing-bar 
(median coverts), thereby making the bar rather ill-defined. In the photograph a couple of whitish 
flecks can be seen among the dark-brown feathers of the wing-bar in each wing, but this was not 
noticed in the field (B. Breife pers. com.). The photographs also show a small, dark, triangular 
spot near the carpal joint, on the leading edge of each wing (c.f. Porter et al 1981, Plate 35). 

Flight-feathers: dark brown, but slightly paler than the wing-bar, with, primary tips darker - 
blackish. Inner primaries: paler than other flight-feathers - pale grey-brown, forming a 
conspicuous pale wedge in the otherwise predominantly dark wing. The photographs show - when 
closely scrutinized, as mentioned above - the pale inner primaries to be faintly and closely barred 



77 



Sandgrouse 6 



Booted Eagles in intermediate plumage 



brown/off-white. This was not visible in the field according to the observers (B. Breife pers. 
com.). (That dark barring is present also in the other, darker flight-feathers, is faintly discernible 
in the photographs - when closely scrutinized.) 

Body: successively paler towards tail, from grey-brown upper breast (faintly demarcated from 
lower breast) and belly-centre to buffish flanks and off-white under-tail coverts. Cheeks and 
throat: dark brown and darker than body, giving hooded appearance. Tail: grey with central 
feathers and tips of all rectrices slightly darker. 

In the field from below, the indistinct, dark wing-bar was seen to be the darkest feature of the 
underparts and a slight rufous tinge was noticeable on the lesser coverts (B. Breife pers. com.). 



DISCUSSION 

The two Eilat intermediate Booted Eagles, though generally very dissimilar - the 1981 bird 
predominately pale, giving a buffish-grey colour-impression and the 1982 bird mainly dark and 
brownish - had also a few features in common. The one most prominent was the dark wing-bar 
below, conspicuous in the 1981 individual and, although less distinct on the 1982 bird, still the 
outstanding feature. As the normal pale morph has at the most dark spots or streaks on the 
otherwise whitish greater coverts, the intermediates' wing-bar could be regarded as being a feature 
closest to the dark morph, which normally does have dark-brown to blackish greater coverts. Both 
intermediates, to a varying degree, showed a rufous tinge on the lesser/median coverts, a feature 
present, also in varying strength, on normal pale and dark morphs. Both looked dark-headed from 
below being paler on the body than the throat and upper breast - a characteristic feature, though 
variable in distinctness, of the normal pale phase. However, the coloration of the Eilat birds was in 
this respect of the normal dark phase. The barring of the flight-feathers, visible in the 
photographs, is a character present also in normal Booted Eagles (Cramp & Simmons 1980), 
though not usually noticeable due to the darker coloration. The plumages of both birds were 
relatively fresh - no missing feathers and not visibly very worn. The differing markings in the dark 
wing-bar of the 1982 individual could imply accomplished partial moult, or perhaps they were a 
result of the plumage aberration in general. The 1981 bird showed no feathers differing in its 
rather well-defined pattern. The eagle's behaviour was different though, from any other 
individually recognizable Booted Eagle that I had seen, interrupting migration to hunt around the 
kibbutz fields. This was in as much that it stayed in the area for at least four days. At the most, I 
had previously seen the same hunting eagle twice or thrice on the same day. As I left Eilat on the 
third day after I first saw the intermediate, it might well have stayed on in the vicinity of Eilat for 
some time unknown to me. This lack of urge to continue migration could indicate a young bird, in 
no hurry to head north-eastwards. 



CONCLUSIONS 

That the two Booted Eagles in differing plumage seen at Eilat and described above can be 
regarded as intermediate morphs seems clear when comparisons are made with the normal pale 
and dark morphs. The similarities and differences shown by the Eilat intermediates give some idea 
of how these forms may vary in appearance below. It is possible that there is a gradient of 
aberration in the birds differing from the normal pale and dark phases, from those more like a 
pale morph to those close to a dark morph. In the case of those only slightly differing birds, the 
question would be whether they also should be assigned to the intermediate category, or not. 

It would be interesting if future observations of intermediate Booted Eagles also documented 
the presence of a dark wing-bar in the underwing plumage. {Plate 12 shows a photograph of an 
intermediate Booted Eagle taken by R. F. Porter, also at Eilat in March 1976. Ed.) 



78 



Sandgrouse 6 



Booted Eagles in intermediate plumage 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Thanks are due to Professor Gustav Rudebeck for access to references and to Berra Breife for 
the loan of his colour transparencies. 

SUMMARY 

Two recent observations of Booted Eagles in plumages intermediate between the normal pale 
and dark morphs are documented and descriptions of the plumages are given. Comparison are 
made between the two intermediates and also between them and the normal morphs. The nature of 
the intermediates' variation is briefly discussed. 

REFERENCES 

CHRISTENSEN, S., LOU, O., MULLER, M. & WOHLMUTH, H. 1981. The spring migration 

of raptors in Southern Israel and Sinai. Sandgrouse No. 3: 1-43. 
CRAMP, S. & SIMMONS, K. E. L. (eds) 1980. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. 2. 

Oxford. 

DEMENTE'EV, G. P. & GLADKOV, N. A. 1951. Birds of the Soviet Union, Vol. 1. Jerusalem 
1966. 

GLUTZ VON BLOTZHEIM, U. N., BAUER, K. M. & BEZZEL, E. 1971. Handbuch der Vbgel 

Mitteleuropas. Band 4. Frankfurt am Main. 
HARTERT, E. 1912-21. Die Vogel der Palaarktischen Fauna, Vol. 2. Berlin. 
PORTER, R. F., WILLIS, I., CHRISTENSEN, S. & NIELSEN, B. P. 1981. Flight Identification 

of European Raptors. Berkhamsted. 

V. Holmgren, Vildanden B:414, S-222 34 Lund, SWEDEN. 



79 



NOTES TO CONTRIBUTORS 



The Editorial Committee of Sandgrouse will consider for publication 
original papers in the English language which contribute to the body of 
knowledge of the birds of the Middle East, their distribution, breeding 
biology, identification, conservation etc. The Middle East for this purpose 
includes Turkey and Libya in the west to Afghanistan and the Palearctic fringe 
of Pakistan in the east, the southern shoes of the black and Caspian Seas in the 
north to the Arabian peninsula and the Palearctic limits in the Sudan and 
Ethiopia in the south. 

Submissions will be considered on the understanding that the work has 
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Submissions should be in duplicate and must be typewritten on one side of 
the paper only and with double spacing. The approximate position of figures 
and tables should be indicated in the margin. Authors should consult a recent 
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tables, captions, references, dates, abbrevations etc. A full length paper 
should include a summary not exceeding 5 per cent of the total length. 

The English vernacular name and the scientific name of birds mentioend 
should follow Voous, K. H. 1977. List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species 
B.O.U., London. 

Figures and diagrams should be drawn in black ink on white paper or 
board. Good quality colour or black and white photographs may be included, 
subject to cost. 

Authors will normally receive galley proofs of their papers; these should 
be corrected and returned to the Editor without delay. Textual changes cannot 
be made at proof stage under any circumstances. 

It is regretted that offprints of papers published in Sandgrouse will not be 
provided. However, authors of full length papers may request up to 5 free 
copies of the relevant issue of Sandgrouse (6 in the case of two or more 
authors) and authors of short papers may request one free copy. 

All manuscripts should be addressed to the Editor, Sandgrouse, 
O.S.M.E., c/o The Lodge, Sandy, Beds. 



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